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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Giants Sign Zito, $126M/7 Years

Barry Zito moves across the Bay as the Giants sign the offseason's premier free agent pitcher to a $126M/7 year deal (also via MLB.com). It's an expensive token gesture on a generally geriatric team; Grant at McCovey Chronicles doesn't like it for the years:
Insane. While a list of comparable pitchers from Baseballs Reference and Prospectus isn't perfect, you have to be worried that there aren't too many pitchers on the lists who were still effective at 35. Or 34. Or, you know, 33, 32, and 31. That isn't going to be some quirk particular to just Zito's comps; that's going to be true of any pitcher. Seven years to any pitcher - Johan Santana, right now, for example - is insane.
"This was done," he continues, "for the fan who calls KNBR and wants the Giants to trade draft picks for Miguel Cabrera. This was done to ward off criticism." True, but it's also consistent with the kinds of teams that Brian Sabean has assembled lately.

One of the things that has fascinated me this offseason has been the near-total collapse in the quality of the free agents available, thanks to widespread buyouts of young players while they're still arbitration eligible. From that standpoint, this may be a fairly smart move if you believe that Barry Bonds won't be on the team in 2-3 years (true), and the rest of the team won't be all that expensive. Trouble is, Zito isn't the pitching equivalent of Bonds, though he's getting a payday as if he were.

One more thing I like about this: it ends the possibility of a "sign Zito, flip Santana" trade, which was never a good idea.

Well Rob, we'll agree to disagree on the sign Zito, flip Santana hypothetical. I think Zito will be a league average or better pitcher for the next several years (though I personally wouldn't give more than a 5-year deal for any pitcher), and the Angels so desperately need another bat...IF such a deal could have netted an A-Rod caliber hitter.

But it's not going to happen.

As an Angels fan, I'm a bit disappointed not to see Zito go to the Rangers. It would have been fun watchint all the homers fly out of Arlington in July and August.
See, that's just it. There never was a possibility of such a deal. And that's why it would have been a mistake.
So what does this do to the pitching market? Not many free agents of note remaining. (Weaver? Mulder?) Dodgers have to be salivating at what their potential excess starter(s) might be worth at the trading deadline next season.
Not sure the Dodgers do have such a player.
Schmidt, Lowe, Wolf, Penny, Billingsley, Tomko, Hendrickson...there's definitely some excess there (without considering anyone on the farm), but the trade candidates (with the exception of Penny or Billingsley) are mostly flotsam & jetsam.

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