Brian Sabean has no plans to trade Barry Zito … because he can’t


Despite making $18.5 million this season as part of a seven-year, $126 million contract Barry Zito was left off the Giants’ playoff roster for all three rounds, but general manager Brian Sabean said yesterday that he has no plans to trade Zito this offseason.

You know why? Because he can’t. In related news, I have no plans to date Mila Kunis.

Zito is still owed $18.5 million in 2011, $19 million in 2012, and $20 million in 2013, with an $18 million option or $7 million buyout in 2014. Which team is willing to assume what’s essentially a three-year, $64.5 million contract for a 33-year-old pitcher who went 1-10 with a 5.19 ERA in his final 15 starts?

Feel free to take your time thinking of answer. There isn’t one.

Of course, Sabean did his best to spin the situation:

We like Barry’s contribution as far as the innings he pitches and the starts he makes. Part of Barry’s problem is that we haven’t been able to score for him.

“As fas the innings he pitches and the starts he makes” is sort of an amazing way to put it, because it completely leaves out the run-prevention aspect of Zito’s job and basically just means “well, at least he hasn’t gotten hurt.” Zito is 40-57 with a 4.45 ERA through four seasons in San Francisco, but he has averaged 33 starts and 192 innings per year.

Make no mistake, though: Sabean would gladly trade Zito if he could. And he’d be willing to eat quite of a bit of that remaining $64.5 million contract to do so. But even if the Giants were to toss in, say, $30 million along with Zito in a trade, are there any teams out there interested in paying him $34.5 million over the next three years? Probably not, so they’ll keep paying $19 million for a good fifth starter and I’ll avoid giving Mila a call.

Marlins have begun extension talks with Dee Gordon

Dee Gordon
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald wrote three weeks ago that the Marlins were probably going to explore an extension this winter with second baseman Dee Gordon. And it sounds like those talks are underway.

Via beat writer Joe Frisaro of MLB.com:

As a guest on MLB Network’s “Hot Stove” show Wednesday morning, Gordon confirmed his camp has been in talks with the Marlins regarding a multiyear deal. A source told MLB.com that the discussions are preliminary and have just recently started.

“My agent is doing the talking,” Gordon said on the show. “They’re just keeping me in the loop. I think it’s going pretty well right now. We’ll see how that goes. I’m just playing the waiting game. We’re going to do the right thing.”

The 27-year-old carries three more seasons of salary arbitration, so there’s no real rush to get something done before next spring. Gordon carries quite a bit of leverage after posting a career-best .333/.359/.418 slash line in 145 games this past season for the Fish. He led all major leaguers in hits (205) and stolen bases (58).

Braves sign Bud Norris to one-year contract

Bud Norris

Bud Norris has found a home for his attempt at a bounceback season, signing a one-year deal with the Braves. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com says it’s worth $2.5 million, which is a huge cut from his $8.8 million salary this year.

Norris had established himself as a solid mid-rotation starter from 2009-2014, but had a brutal 2015 season split between the Orioles and Padres with a 6.72 ERA in 83 innings and a late-season move to the bullpen.

In announcing the signing the Braves referred to Norris as a starting pitcher, so joining the rotation for a rebuilding team gives him a chance to get his career back on track with an eye on hitting the open market as a free agent again next offseason. And if he fares well, the Braves could use him to add a prospect or two at the trade deadline.

The Cubs acquire Rex Brothers from the Rockies

Rex Brothers Rockies

The number of people who, if you held a gun to their head, would say that “Rex Brothers” was a game show host and/or local TV news personality from the late 1970s or early 80s is not insignificant. But if you’re a Rockies fan or if spend all day thinking about baseball you know that he’s a reliever who has played in Colorado for the past five years. Now you know him as a reliever for the Cubs:

Brothers — a former Best Shape of His Life All-Star — was pretty good until he hit a brick wall in 2014 and spent most of 2015 in Triple-A. He had something of a bounceback after being called up when rosters expanded in September, but that’s not the sort of thing to excite anyone. He could be useful for the Cubs or just spring training cannon fodder and organizational depth.

Cabrera just turned 18 a couple of weeks ago and pitched a grand total of 14 games in the Dominican Summer League. He’s young and was a $250,000 signee from the Dominican as a 16-year-old so, by definition, he’s a project. Worth giving up Rex Brothers for him if you’re the Rockies, worth risking for some depth in the pen if you’re the Cubs.

Diamondbacks hire Dave Magadan as hitting coach

Dave Magadan Rangers
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Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks’ new hitting coach is Dave Magadan, who “parted ways” with the Rangers last month after three years filling the same role in Texas.

Magadan also previously was the Red Sox’s hitting coach and his teams have generally done pretty well, including the Rangers scoring the third-most runs in the league this year.

He’ll have plenty of talent to work with in Arizona, as the Diamondbacks scored the second-most runs in the league led by Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock, and David Peralta. Turner Ward, who had been Arizona’s hitting coach, chose to leave the team two weeks ago.