12/29/2006 8:01 PM ET
Giants sign Cy Young winner Barry Zito to seven-year deal
SAN FRANCISCO -- In signing the highest profile free agent pitcher in franchise history, the San Francisco Giants have reached an agreement with former Cy Young Award winner Barry Zito, club Senior Vice President and General Manager Brian Sabean announced today. The three-time All Star has signed a seven-year contract with a club option for the 2014 season, which has a vesting provision and an opt-out clause, to continue his career in the Bay Area.
Financial terms were not disclosed.
The 28-year-old left hander, the prize of this year's free agent class, owns a 102-63 lifetime record with a 3.55 ERA in 222 starts over his seven-year career. The former Oakland Athletic has logged a .618 winning percentage, which is the 12th-best mark among active pitchers, while limiting opponents to a .232 batting average against -- fourth lowest among active pitchers with at least 1,400 innings. The 2002 American League Cy Young winner has registered at least 10 wins and 200 innings in each of his six full seasons in the majors, surpassing the 14-victory barrier five times and the 220-frame marker on four occasions.
"When you have an opportunity to acquire a pitcher of Barry's caliber, you have to exhaust every effort to get him on your club and I give due credit to Barry, Scott (Boras), Peter (Magowan) and our ownership for making this work," said Sabean. "We've obviously had an opportunity to admire him from afar as a pitcher, but we became even more impressed with Barry as a person during this process. Not only will he be a huge help to the Giants on the field, but along with Matt Morris, he's going to help guide the young arms of our future in (Matt) Cain, (Noah) Lowry, (Jonathan) Sanchez and (Tim) Lincecum."
Since his first full season in the big leagues in 2001 no other pitcher has started as many games as Zito, who made 208 starts over the period. Future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux is second with 206 starting assignments. During the six-year span between 2001-06, the newest Giant ranks third in the majors for innings pitched (1,337.2), fourth in wins (95) and ninth in strikeouts (1,018). In fact, he led the American League in starts four times in the last six years, including each of the last two campaigns. Zito has also been among the junior circuit's top 10 in ERA four times during that span (2001-03, '06). During this six-year period, he is one of only four pitchers in the majors to log at least 200 innings in each season, joining Mark Buehrle, Freddy Garcia and Livan Hernandez.
"Barry's signing is as big a moment in recent Giants history as when we signed Barry Bonds for the first time back in 1992," said Giants President and Managing General Partner Peter Magowan. "Barry is at the same point in his career now as Bonds was back then -- an established major leaguer with a rigorous work ethic entering the prime of his career. In addition to his skills as a pitcher, we were particularly impressed with his charisma, leadership skills, especially given our young pitching staff, and his strong dedication to being at the top of his game. In terms of the contract, after examining Barry's track record of durability, his age and work ethic, we are excited that he'll be a Giant for at least the next seven years."
The Las Vegas, NV native went 16-10 with a 3.83 ERA in 34 starts, while helping Oakland to the 2006 AL West championship. The southpaw tied for eighth in the AL for wins, while ranking tenth in ERA and tying for circuit lead in starts. He defeated two-time Cy Young winner Johan Santana in Game 1 of the American League Division Series, allowing one run over 8.0 innings in propelling the A's to a three-game sweep of the Twins.
In five trips to the post season, Zito owns a 4-3 lifetime playoff record with a 3.25 ERA (16er, 44.1ip) in seven starts. He limited his opponents to a .209 batting average in those seven assignments on the October stage.
The University of Southern California product has enjoyed great success after the All-Star Break during his career, going 59-27 with a 3.26 ERA in 108 career starts. Zito has more post-break wins than any other pitcher since 2000, eclipsing such stalwarts as Tim Hudson (57 wins), Andy Pettitte (56), Maddux (55) and Bartolo Colon (54).
Zito becomes ninth pitcher who has won a Cy Young to wear a Giants uniform, while Mike McCormick is the only Giant to have ever won the award (1967). The other eight hurlers who have pitched for San Francisco but won the award elsewhere include: Steve Bedrosian (1987 with Philadelphia), Vida Blue (1971 with Oakland), Steve Carlton (1972, '77, '80 and '82 with Philadelphia), Mark Davis (1989 with San Diego), Orel Hershiser (1988 with Los Angeles-NL), Gaylord Perry (1972 with Cleveland, 1978 with San Diego) and Steve Stone (1980 with Baltimore).
Known as a pitcher who will give his team every chance to win each of his starts, he logged a 15-1 personal record in 23 starts with run support of two or more in 2006. In fact, Zito has fashioned a 29-3 ledger (.906) in 44 starts with support of two or more runs during the 2005-06 seasons. In 108 career starts with at least four runs of support, he has produced an 85-4 mark (.955).
A two-time Opening Day starter, Zito leaves the Athletics after a storied seven-year career in which he appears often on the club's Oakland-era leader board. He is fourth in wins (102), strikeouts (1,096) and starts (222), while placing fifth in winning percentage (.618) and innings pitched (1430.1).