Giants considering eating Zito’s contract?

Barry Zito is apparently so bad that the Giants are actually willing to eat the $64.5 million left on his ridiculous contract just so there’s no possible way his suck will infect Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Jonathan Sanchez.

From Bruce Jenkins at the San Francisco Chronicle:

A source close to the team indicated Tuesday that there is “exasperation” with Zito, that his status as the No. 5 starter is “definitely not safe,” and that the team would even consider buying out his expensive contract before Opening Day if that’s what it takes to say farewell.

Heading into spring training, it was widely believed that the Giants were more than willing to ride it out with Zito, given the overall excellence of their rotation. But there’s a healthy sense of urgency in the world champions’ camp. They didn’t clinch a postseason berth until the final game of the 2010 season, and they realize that just a single loss – something that could be avoided – could cost them a chance to repeat.

There is concern that Zito hasn’t been properly diligent in maintaining his physical conditioning, and that Monday’s performance (five walks in 13 batters) was all too reminiscent of Oct. 2, when he walked home two runs in the first inning against San Diego and took the loss at AT&T Park.

It’s absurd to think that the Giants wouldn’t just ride the situation out with Zito considering he’s nothing more than a fifth starter. Unless they trick some team into taking some of his contract off their hands, they have to pay him anyway so why not see if he can iron out his issues? (I mean we’re talking about a fifth starter.)

But it shows how bad this guy has been that the Giants are willing to pay him $64.5 million just to stay away. As Jenkins points out in his column, at some point the club will just have to cut their losses and move on because he hasn’t shown any signs of being the pitcher he was in Oakland (or even half the pitcher he was in Oakland).

That said, I refuse to believe that Brian Sabean can’t get on the horn right now with his old buddies in New York and have Zito in a Yankee uniform by 5PM today. Even if the Giants had to eat most of his contract, maybe they could save a couple of pennies and acquire a prospect in return (even if it’s a 38-year-old Single-A prospect with bad knees and poor vision). Anything would be better than dumping him and paying him right? You’re telling me that the Yankees, with all of their pitching problems, wouldn’t take a flier on Zito if the Giants were willing to pick up most of the tab? Come on, man…COME ON!

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Yankees have considered adding Kazmir and other lefties, but what about Zito?

San Francisco Giants Barry Zito pitches in the first inning against the San Diego Padres at AT&T Park in San Francisco on October 2, 2010. Zito walked in two runs in the first and took the loss in the 4-2 game. UPI/Terry Schmitt……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Ken Rosenthal writes via Twitter that the Yankees have “kicked around” the idea of making trade offers for Scott Kazmir (Angels) and other lefties, such as Joe Saunders (Angels), Gio Gonzalez (A’s), Wade LeBlanc (Padres) and Clayton Richard (Padres).

One name absent from that list is former AL Cy Young winner Barry Zito. I would have to imagine with the amount of pitching depth that the Giants have that Zito would be available for the right price. (Or any price for that matter.)

The problem of course is that Zito has three years and $64.5 million left on his contract. The Yankees have that kind of money hanging on toilet paper rollers in their front office bathrooms, but it’s not like Zito is worth that much coin – even to a team like New York, which could use a starter.

But what if the Giants were willing to pay a portion of Zito’s salary and take very little in return? Would the Yankees be willing to take a risk on him then? It’s telling that the Giants left Zito off of their World Series roster after he choked in the second-to-last regular season game against the Padres (a game in which San Fran needed Zito to pitch well and instead he lasted just three innings), but the Yankees have concerns now that Andy Pettitte has decided to retire. If A.J. Burnett doesn’t round back into form, then the Bombers will have a serious issue on their hands in terms of starting pitching. Zito isn’t Cliff Lee but he’s not Bartolo Colon either.

Then again, maybe this is a deal that works out way better for the Giants and I’m forcing the issue from the Yankees perspective. San Fran signed Jeff Suppan to a minor league deal and while Zito is arguably better than the former Cardinal, Suppan would be fine as a fifth starter (which is all the Giants would require him to be). If they could free themselves of at least a portion of Zito’s contract, then it doesn’t matter what they get back in a trade. It would be a win for them no matter what.

The Yankees, on the other hand, would have to pick up some of the tab for a pitcher that has had major confidence issues since arriving in San Francisco. They already have A.J. Burnett on their roster – they don’t need another one.

But a Zito/Yankees marriage is intriguing nonetheless.

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