Giants “have to sit down and talk about” Barry Zito’s future

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San Francisco still owes Barry Zito $19 million next season, $20 million in 2013, and a $7 million buyout in 2014, but when asked yesterday about the left-hander’s future role with the Giants manager Bruce Bochy replied: “We’ll have to sit down and talk about it … I can’t answer that.”

Zito has been one of the biggest free agent busts in baseball history, at no point living up to his $126 million contract, but when healthy he’s at least been a decent back-of-the-rotation starter with a 4.52 ERA in 818 innings for the Giants.

However, this season he has a 5.62 ERA in nine starts and has spent much of the year on the disabled list. And the Giants’ impressive collection of young starting pitching means they may not really need a decent back-of-the-rotation starter in 2012 and beyond.

As it stands now the Giants figure to enter next season with Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, and Ryan Vogelsong locked into the rotation, leaving Zito to potentially compete for the final spot with Eric Surkamp and Jonathan Sanchez. San Francisco has been in a contract-eating, veteran-releasing mood lately, cutting Aaron Rowand and Miguel Tejada, but so far Zito has avoided the ax.