Last month we learned that Barry Zito was making a comeback after sitting out all of 2014 and now John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the 36-year-old left-hander will throw for interested teams in January.
Here’s the latest on Zito, via agent Scott Boras:
He’s been working hard on his mechanics. He doesn’t cup the ball anymore. His drive to home plate is a little bit different than it was. He has some new mechanical evolutions he’s been working on to really advance what he thinks will be effective.
Zito was terrible for the Giants in 2013, posting a 5.74 ERA and .314 opponents’ batting average on the way to losing his spot in the rotation. He was a decent back-of-the-rotation starter in 2012, but Zito has basically been a below-average starting pitcher since signing with San Francisco in 2007.
He’ll surely have to take a minor-league contract and prove himself, assuming he impresses enough next month to get some offers.
Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports that the Pirates and second baseman Neil Walker have had “preliminary discussions” about a long-term contract extension.
Walker is under team control for 2015 and 2016 via arbitration, but he’s due for a raise to over $8 million and is coming off a career-year in which he hit .271 with 23 homers and an .809 OPS in 137 games at age 28.
Here’s what general manager Neal Huntington said about the potential extension talks:
We would like nothing more than to have Neil Walker end his career as a Pirate. There’s no question about that. We understand he’s a really good player, and we understand the local implications and local ties he has.
However, for now Brink says an agreement is not considered imminent.
Released by the Indians in August, veteran outfielder Nyjer Morgan has signed with the Hanwha Eagles of the Korean Baseball Organization.
Morgan had some nice seasons for the Pirates, Nationals, and Brewers, but hasn’t been a productive regular in the majors since 2011 and is now 34 years old.
He hit .341 in 15 games for Cleveland this year, but then hurt his knee and was later demoted to Triple-A. He previously spent the 2013 season playing in Japan.
According to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com the Marlins “are in hot pursuit” of Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau.
After several poor seasons in Minnesota following a 2010 concussion Morneau signed a two-year, $12.5 million deal with Colorado and got his career back on track, hitting .319 with 17 homers and an .860 OPS in 135 games.
Coors Field inflated those numbers, but Morneau’s road production was solid as well and he’d hit a combined .256 with a .726 OPS during the previous three seasons.
He’s owed $6.75 million in 2015, plus a $9 million mutual option or $750,000 buyout in 2016.
Not only aren’t the Angels counting on right-hander Garrett Richards to be recovered enough from knee surgery for Opening Day, manager Mike Scioscia told reporters that they expect him to miss the first 4-6 weeks of the season.
Richards tore the patellar tendon in his left knee while covering first base in August, ending his season. At the time there was some optimism that he’d be ready to go for the beginning of the season, yet despite no reported setbacks in his recovery process the Angels are now being a lot more cautious.
Before the injury Richards was having a breakout season at age 26, throwing 169 innings with a 2.61 ERA and 164/51 K/BB ratio.