According to Jerry Cransick of ESPN and Baseball America, 36-year-old Barry Zito will be throwing for a number of teams on Tuesday with the hope of landing a contract for the 2015 season. He’ll likely get offered a minor-league deal with an invite to Spring Training so a team can see if he has anything left in the tank when going up against professional hitters. In all reality, after a very rough 2013 and sitting out all of 2014, it would be quite a surprise to see the former All-Star stick with a major league team come Opening Day.
During 2013, when Zito last pitched for the San Francisco Giants, he was a starter for the most part but didn’t compile very strong results. In 30 games, 25 being starts, he posted an ugly 5.74 ERA, along with a 1.70 WHIP and 11.7 H/9. He wasn’t effective against anyone, his stuff as a whole continued to diminish rather quickly, and his mechanics were a mess by the end of the season. Not to mention this all took place while playing in the very pitchers friendly AT&T Park, so it’s scary to think what his stat line could have looked like if he pitched somewhere where he didn’t have that benefit. The last time Barry had posted an ERA below 4.00 was in 2006, when he was still a member of the Oakland Athletics. Zito has never taken on a full-time role in the bullpen before during his career, but maybe a try at it could possibly be what it takes to resurrect his career. At this point, if Zito is still where he was at after 2013, he has no chance of starting in professional baseball and a very small chance of landing somewhere as bullpen arm come Opening Day.
Teams attending Zito’s workout will be anyone looking for pitching depth; it’s very unlikely anyone will consider him as an option for their starting rotation because he has struggled to even eat innings due to injuries. He’ll likely throw today and have a deal by the end of the week. It will be interesting though as to what teams see Zito as after how much he has struggled while starting throughout the recent years.
Who knows, maybe he’ll join a club and be the surprise story of Spring Training this year, right? I guess optimism is key before the season, especially when it comes to teams signing guys like Zito, who haven’t been significantly effective in about a decade.