In an A’s spring camp filled with new faces, one very familiar name will be attempting to land a roster spot.
Barry Zito has agreed to a minor league deal with Oakland that includes an invitation to spring training, sources confirmed. The news adds a dose of nostalgia to the early spring storylines as the 36-year-old Zito will attempt a comeback with the team with which he won the 2002 American League Cy Young award.
The news was first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.
Zito sat out last season after finishing off a seven-year, $126 million contract with the Giants in 2013. He never considered it a retirement, and now he’ll try to carve out a spot on an A’s pitching staff that’s added a host of newcomers through numerous offseason trades.
The odds would appear long for Zito, who went 102-63 with a 3.55 ERA while wearing green and gold from 2000-06. There are at least six legitimate candidates fighting for three open rotation spots behind Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir. The route to a relief role would appear just as tough in a deep A’s bullpen.
But at age 36, it’s possible Zito still has something left in the tank. He’s always relied more on location than velocity anyway, and his experience could work to his advantage. Four of the pitchers competing for starting spots – Chris Bassitt, Kendall Graveman, Jesse Hahn and Sean Nolin – have just 27 big league appearances between them.
At the very least, Zito’s veteran savvy could prove useful to the younger pitchers surrounding him in Oakland’s camp.