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Could the Yanks Absorb Barry Zito’s Contract?

By Paul Catalano ~ January 26th, 2011. Filed under: Digest Contributors, New York Yankees.

If it meant getting Matt Cain?

Back up. These are the slow days for baseball; no spring training; the free agent market mostly dried up. So why not speculate wildly?

Barry Zito‘s contract is an anchor of an albatross of a lead piano on the San Francisco Giants organization. Zito’s contract is costing the Giants between $18.5 and $20 million for the next 3 seasons and then another $7 million dollar payout to make him go away in 2014. Zito’s contract eats 1/6th of the Giants payroll next year. Think they would like to get rid of it?

Well, the Yankees are one of the teams that can actually do that. And what’s more, the Yankees are desperate. They completely whiffed this offseason and are at least one pitcher short of a rotation.

Let’s get something straight. That missing pitcher is not Barry Zito. It’s Matt Cain.

Now, would the Giants trade Matt Cain? Most likely, no. But if the Yankees take the gigunda Barry Zito contract off their hands and trade them Ivan Nova and say, Andrew Brackman and Austin Romine? (Or Adam Warren. Or Slade Heathcott. Or any prospect not named Montero, Banuelos, Betances, Noesi or Sanchez.) Where would that leave the Yankees? With a rotation of Sabathia, Burnett, Cain, Hughes and…well my mother could pitch the fifth game. Or Barry Zito, take your pick.

It would also leave their contract situation a complete mess until, at least, 2014. The Yankees would be at around $215 million right now. They would be over $165 next year, not including the arbitration raises of Hughes, Martin, Gardner and the rest. Simply put, with the contracts of Rodriguez, Burnett, Jeter and etc—the Yankees stuck with a lot of gargantuan and immovable contracts for a while.

But the Yankees could, in theory, do it. The other, more pressing question is….would the Giants do it? Probably not. That said, they have a lot people who need to be paid soon. Lincecum is up for arbitration in 2012 and is going to break the bank, if the Giants don’t sign him to a mega-contract before then. Sanchez is up for arbitration that year as well (he of the overlooked 133 ERA+). Wilson and Cain are due in 2013. That’s potentially a lot of money to be spent and soon. Getting about $20 million off the books to pay these kids might not be a bad idea. And they also a bunch of young, talented and cheap players in return. The word is, that this off-season Ivan Nova was coveted by a number of teams, who see a potential rotation starter in him. And the Giants might need a good young catcher if they plan on moving Posey to 1st base or the outfield. Also, the Giants have Dan Runzler, a good young lefty waiting in the wings (2.61 ERA in 41.1 IP) and Zach Wheeler and Eric Surkamp on the fast track to the majors. So the Giants rotation would be Lincecum, Sanchez, Bumgarner, Nova and Runzler, with Zach Wheeler coming soon. Not a shabby rotation…young, talented and cheap.

Of course, this is all just for fun speculation, and would never see the light of day. The Yankees wouldn’t want the Zito contract hanging around their necks like a noose (and who knows how Zito—a slow-ball, fly ball pitcher in Yankee Stadium in the AL East would play out). And the Giants probably wouldn’t want to give away a pitcher who pitched 21.1 innings of scoreless ball in the postseason, even if it gets Zito’s contract off their backs and good prospects in return.
But heck, on paper it works.

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Paul Catalano is an aspiring sportswriter who’s day job is as Production Manager for Field & Stream, Outdoor Life & Shot Business magazines. He has written often for his own blog at And a Player to be Named Later since 2007. His articles have been picked up by Dugout Central, Foxsports.com, Lindys.com among others. Before that, Paul got married to the lovely Elizabeth Ryan, got his Master’s in Writing from Emerson College, attended his first Yankee game at 9 years old, got his first base hit at 5 years old and was born.

1 Response to Could the Yanks Absorb Barry Zito’s Contract?

  1. jack assel

    you, sir, are an idiot

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