Barry Zito didn’t pitch in 2014, taking a year off to, as Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com describes it, “travel, surf, and enjoy life away from baseball.”
And now he’s making a comeback.
Zito’s agent, Scott Boras, told reporters at the general managers meetings yesterday that the former Cy Young winner has been working out with his eye on returning in 2015 at age 36.
He called me on the phone in August and said, “I’m ready to go. I want to pitch.” He set up the plan and did all of that.
Here’s the problem, though: Zito wasn’t any good when he stepped away.
He went 5-11 with a 5.74 ERA and .318 opponents’ batting average in 133 innings for the Giants in 2013, losing his spot in the rotation. He was decent the year before, but combined during his final three seasons Zito had a 4.97 ERA in 371 innings. And really, he wasn’t much better than a back-of-the-rotation at any point during his seven-year (and $126 million) stay in San Francisco.
One big free agent domino is about to fall, as Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Tigers are close to re-signing designated hitter Victor Martinez to a four-year contract.
Martinez initially joined Detroit in 2010 on a four-year, $52 million deal. Back then he was 32 years old. Now he’s 36 years old, but Martinez is also coming off a career-year in which he hit .335 with 32 homers and a league-leading .974 OPS.
Martinez had never topped 25 homers in a season previously and homered just 14 times in 159 games for the Tigers in 2013, but he’s a career .303 hitter with a lifetime .847 OPS.
Martinez ranked No. 8 on HardballTalk’s list of the top 150 free agents.
UPDATE: It’s a four-year, $68 million deal. So that’s $17 million per season through age 39. And that means the Tigers will be paying a 35-year-old Miguel Cabrera, a 35-year-old Justin Verlander, and a 39-year-old Martinez a total of $75 million in 2018.
The transactions won’t be official until later this week, but Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star Telegram reports that the Rangers have sold right-hander Miles Mikolas and left-hander Aaron Poreda to the Yomiuri Giants of the Japanese League.
Mikolas started 10 games for the Rangers this season at age 25, but posted a 6.44 ERA and has struggled to generate strikeouts in the minors.
Poreda was the White Sox’s first-round draft pick in 2007, but he didn’t pitch in the majors at all from 2010-2013 and then had a 5.91 ERA in 26 relief appearances for the Rangers this season.
Both players will be removed from the Rangers’ 40-man roster.
Right-hander Donn Roach has been claimed off waivers by the Cubs after being designated for assignment by the Padres last week.
Roach was the Angels’ third-round draft pick in 2010 and got traded to the Padres in 2012 along with Alexi Amarista for Ernesto Frieri.
At the time he was considered a decent prospect, but Roach is now 25 years old and has a 3.95 ERA with just 126 strikeouts in 237 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. He also posted an ugly 17/15 K/BB ratio in his 30-inning debut for the Padres this season.
Royals manager Ned Yost is entering the final season of his contract and teams tend to avoid having “lame duck” skippers, but general manager Dayton Moore indicated that he’s in no rush to hand out a new deal despite the team’s World Series run.
Moore told Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star that “right now, we’re focused on other things” and overall the sense seems to be that both sides realize Yost isn’t going anywhere.
Yost, who turned 60 years old in August, has said he’d like to manage for 2-3 more seasons. And here’s s startling fact via McCullough: He’s already the longest-tenured manager in Royals history with five years on the job.