I’m not going to do a big write-up on why signing Barry Zito is a bad idea because I don’t believe the Mariners are actually going to sign Barry Zito. The leaks about the M’s interest in Zito are coming from the Scott Boras camp, a source from whom public statements can only be described as questionable at best. The Mariners, as a general rule, won’t give six or seven year contracts to pitchers, and they don’t have the money in the budget for Zito. Yes, they could increase the budget, go against organizational philosophy, and outbid the Mets while hoping that Zito takes a few million more to pitch for a last place team rather than joining one of the main contenders in the National League, but let’s just call it a pretty big stretch.
Anyways, for those curious as to why I’d be against a Zito signing even if I thought it would happen, here’s the short explanation.
Barry Zito, the last three years, has given up about 10 to 15 runs less than an average starting pitcher over the course of 200 innings. He’s been something like a three win player compared to what the Mariners could cobble together as their fifth starter with some combination of Cha Baek, Jake Woods, Sean White, Justin Lehr, Ryan Feierabend, and assorted Triple-A fodder.
If there was a 100% chance that Zito would repeat his average performance over the last three years, with no decline in performance and no chance for injury, he still wouldn’t be worth $16 or $17 million per season. He’s just not an elite pitcher. He hasn’t been for several years.
Toss in the significant chance of decline and injury over the course of a long term deal, and giving Zito anything close to a 6 year, $100 million deal shouldn’t even be on the Mariners radar. Give superstar contracts to superstar players. Barry Zito isn’t one now, wasn’t one last year, and won’t be next year.