Should Giants cut ties with Zito?

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Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News says it’s time to cut $126-million man Barry Zito loose:

So there’s a test coming up for new
owner Bill Neukom and General Manager Brian Sabean. A big one. And it
could come in a matter of days (Zito is slated to start Saturday in
Pittsburgh) or, at the most, a few weeks.

They have to seriously consider
pulling Zito from the rotation when and if Randy Johnson is ready to
go, presuming Jonathan Sanchez and Ryan Sadowski hold up. And the
Giants have to very seriously consider trying to trade Zito to any
suitable team that will take some of his money (Zito has a no-trade
clause); or they have to think about releasing him in the off-season.

With Jonathan Sanchez’s no-hitter still fresh in our minds, Zito is an
easy target. He was pounded in his last start before the break,
allowing a season-high nine runs over 4 1/3 innings against the Padres.
We all know the contract is awful, arguably one of the worst ever,
but so far in 2009, Zito has compiled his best FIP as a member of the
Giants at 4.59. He’s allowed three runs or less in 10 of 18 starts this
season. The beneficiary of lowered expectations, he’s on pace for his
best FIP since 2005 as a member of the Athletics.

With the emergence of Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, and assuming that
Randy Johnson can get healthy, Zito doesn’t need to be anything more
than a fourth or fifth starter for this team. They would benefit more
by dealing Sanchez (at his highest value) for a bat. Finding a taker
for Zito will be near impossible, unless, of course, they would be
willing to take on another albatross like Vernon Wells. Even that is
doubtful.

Dodgers sign Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million deal

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 18:  Rich Hill #44 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches in the first inning against the Chicago Cubs in game three of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium on October 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The Dodgers have signed lefty Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract.The deal was reported to be imminent over the weekend, but was finalized today following Hill’s physical.

Hill missed a good deal of time in 2016 with blister issues — and he’ll be 37-years-old on Opening Day — but when he was healthy he was fantastic, posting the best season in his 12-year career. He had a a 2.12 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 110.1 innings between the Athletics and Dodgers.

Along with a healthy Clayton Kershaw a maturing Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers rotation looks to be a strength in 2017.

UPDATE: Giants agree to a deal with Mark Melancon

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 10:  Mark Melancon #43 of the Washington Nationals reacts after the final out as the Nationals defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-3 in game three of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 10, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
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UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that a deal is in place pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known. UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears it’s in the four-year, $62 million range. That will make him, temporarily at least, the highest-paid closer in baseball history.

12:15 PMKen Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with closer Mark Melancon.

Melancon had an outstanding 2016, posting a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and a 5.42 K/BB rate in 71.1 innings while saving 47 games for the Pirates and Nationals. You may recall that the Giants had a strong interest in Melancon last summer. It was a well-founded interest given the bullpen woes which waylaid San Francisco in the second half of last season and continued on into the playoffs.

The terms of the apparently impeding deal will be known soon enough, but Rosenthal reported yesterday that Melancon was fielding offers in the four-years, $60 million range. That’s a lot for a closer, but it’ll probably look like a bargain compared to the deals signed with the other two top closers on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Some have speculated that Chapman could get a deal closer to $100 million than $50 million, though that seems optimistic.

What the past couple of seasons have shown, however, is that having a top bullpen will get you very, very far in Major League Baseball. Champan may have been gassed at the end of Game 7, but he was essential to the Cubs’ World Series title. Powerful bullpens gave the Royals a title in 2015 and the Indians an AL pennant this past year. A weak one was, obviously, the Giants’ achilles heel.

Their great need at the back end of the pen, according to Rosenthal’s report, is apparently about to be filled.