With the season just weeks away, the Los Angeles Dodgers have had a busy off-season with the departures of some and the signings of new players. We continue to take a look at possible free agents that could help the team in 2014.
Today, we analyze a left-handed starting pitcher that’s spent his entire career on the West coast:
Zito is a left-handed starting pitcher that was with the San Francisco Giants since 2007. In his career, he is 165-143 with a 4.02 ERA over 14 seasons.
After a strong ending to the 2012 season, Zito struggled in 2013 with a 5-11 record and 5.74 ERA in 30 games for the Giants. He made 25 starts but compiled just 133.1 innings and 86 strikeouts.
The Dodgers have four healthy starters on their roster, along with recovering starters Josh Beckett and Chad Billingsley and a handful of fringe starters. They could use depth in the starting rotation and Zito could provide a veteran left-hander that can be that extra guy for spot starts or long relief. He would essentially assume the role that Chris Capuano filled last season. Zito brings a major-league arm that can eat innings when needed.
Despite his tough time in San Francisco, Zito had a strong postseason in the Giants’ World Series run in 2012 and has a solid postseason career. He’s 6-3 with a 2.83 ERA in 10 playoff starts and was 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA two seasons ago. The Dodgers were reluctant to go beyond their top three starters in the postseason but could give Zito a start due to his previous triumphs.
Zito had one solid season sandwiched around some down years with the Giants. Since 2007, the left-hander is 52-67 with a 4.64 ERA in 174 games. He hasn’t had an ERA lower than 4.03 since 2006 and has been as high as 5.87 as recently as 2011. Zito could give the Dodgers innings, but they may be not be productive ones. The Dodgers can’t count on a struggling pitcher, especially with a championship on their mind.
The Dodgers have a few young pitchers that could be better than Zito and much cheaper. Pitchers like Stephen Fife, Matt Magill and potentially Zach Lee could all give the Dodgers better numbers than Zito. Although Zito is the only left-hander of the bunch and can provide a tough matchup late in games, he also can implode and have a season in which his ERA balloons.
Zito earned $20 million last season in the last year of his seven-year deal with the Giants. He won’t get near that figure and could be limited to a one-year deal. The 35-year-old could squeeze a multi-year deal from a desperate team but will likely get an incentive-laden deal to prove his worth. He could sign a one-year deal worth anywhere from $2-8 million, depending on incentives. There’s also a chance he decides to hangs up his cleats if an offer doesn’t come his way this winter.
Chances Dodgers Sign Him: 10%
The Dodgers haven’t been linked to Zito and there are plenty of better starting pitchers on the market, so it’s unlikely that the team goes after the veteran left-hander. They may decide to throw a minor-league deal his way and force him to make the team out of the spring.
A team desperate to fill innings may overpay for Zito and the Dodgers are not one of those teams.
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