Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the A’s have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with 36 year-old left-hander Barry Zito.
Blast from the past: Barry Zito is going to sign a minor-league deal with the #Athletics and come to spring camp.
— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) February 17, 2015
Zito last pitched with the Giants in September of 2013. Zito finished 2013 going 5-11 with a 5.74 ERA and his 2014 option was bought out by San Francisco for $7 million.
Zito was a key contributor in the Giants World Series run in 2012, compiling a 1.69 ERA in 3 starts, alongside a 15-8 record in the regular season. Behind this though, was a pedestrian 4.15 ERA that was only a marginal improvement over his 4.62 ERA in seven seasons as a Giant.
Though he never lived up to his $126 million contract in San Francisco, Zito’s best days came as a member of the A’s. Bringing back the former Cy Young winner is a low risk move for Oakland GM Billy Beane. He will face an uphill battle trying to make the opening day roster over Oakland’s talented starting pitchers.
Aside from Kazmir, the A’s will be choosing from largely unproven, younger rotation options and perhaps Manager Bob Melvin would appreciate the veteran Zito at the back of his rotation after losing Jon Lester and Jeff Samardzija. Still, with Kazmir, Sonny Gray, Jesse Chavez and Drew Pomeranz as well as newcomer Jesse Hahn, along with the eventual return of Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin, Zito has his work cut out for him.
Zito is the latest in a long line of creative additions by Beane this off-season. After trading away core offensive contributors Josh Donaldson and Brandon Moss, for young talents Brett Lawrie, Marcus Semien and supplementing them with veterans Ben Zobrist and Billy Butler. Zito has always been a fan favorite, and his comeback attempt will provide another interesting angle to keep an eye on as the A’s start Spring Training.