Back in 2006, all the buzz was about how Barry Zito signed the largest contract in the MLB for a pitcher. In 2011 that contract is still the talk of the baseball world, but for all the wrong reasons.
By signing the seven-year contract, Zito immediately became the richest pitcher in baseball history. His contract was worth $126 million and included another option year in 2014.
Just over halfway through his contract, the Giants, I'm sure, have been trying to find some kind of way to move Zito and the $60+ million left on the deal.
The tricky thing in this whole story is how Zito has grossly underperformed and has not lived up to the contract and the expectations that come with signing such a large one.
Zito has shown signs of breaking through. He went 8-4 with an 3.51 ERA through about half the season. After that, you know the story. He failed to reach 10 wins for the first time in his career and he didn't even reach the seventh inning once in his final 10 appearances.
Given the emergence of Madison Bumgarner and the rest of the young Giants staff, Zito could very well be used as trade bait. He could be used not necessarily to get players in return, but instead be used as a mere salary dump.
Here are 10 realistic Zito trade scenarios for the Giants.
OK, so the first scenario isn't really a trade to a team, but it is an option for San Francisco.
They might have to consider it if Zito is just going to be sitting on the bench eating up $20 million of salary each year.
In baseball you are stuck with paying out each contract, so the Giants will still have to pay him, but they could at least fill his position with a veteran, a prospect...or something, anything.
This would be the worst-case scenario for the Giants because they would have to eat 100 percent of the remaining contract.
At least with a trade, they could get some team to take on some of the $60 million left.
The Nationals seem to be getting serious about winning.
They signed prized FA Jayson Werth to a similar $126 million deal that Zito received. They signed Rick Ankiel and Adam LaRoche.
They have franchise players like Ryan Zimmerman, Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg.
The Nationals have increased their payroll each of the past four seasons. Their stadium and general buzz about the team has created a stir in Washington.
Especially with Strasburg likely out for the season, the Nats will need a No. 1 or No. 2 SP.
The Rangers shocked us last year by going out and stealing Cliff Lee away from the Yankees.
Lee is obviously on a different level than Zito, but the Rangers lost out on re-signing him this offseason.
Texas goes into this season with a relatively young pitching staff that showed some weaknesses in the playoffs.
They did go out and sign Brandon Webb to a contract to battle for the fifth starter spot.
Rumors are floating that Michael Young wants out of Texas after the signing of Adrian Beltre. Just throwing that out there.
Toronto had one of the other worst contracts in baseball. They finally just got rid of it by trading Vernon Wells to the Angels.
So why not take on another terrible contract. The Blue Jays need another No. 4 or No. 5 starter. Kyle Drabek will probably be given the chance for a rotation spot, but I'm not sure he will be ready.
Zito will provide some insurance in case he does not make it, or if one of the oft-injured Blue Jays pitchers goes down.
Desperate times calls for desperate measures.
The Angels had their first losing season in awhile last year. With the departure of John Lackey, they failed to have a stud in the rotation every fifth day.
I don't know how long Scott Kazmir will remain here if he's going to pitch like he did in 2010.
Right now the Tigers have Phil Coke penciled in as their fifth starter. Coke has never been a SP yet in his three year career in the majors.
Detroit could use a another left-hander as the rest of their rotation are all righties.
Getting Zito would provide the Tigers with a balanced lineup and rotation.
The teams that I think can go after Zito are teams that, for the most part, can afford him. That is why you will not be surprised with the next couple teams I throw up here.
Boston is second in team payroll, trailing the Yankees by $40 million or so.
Boston is not in need of another starter unless they do something with Matsuzaka. Closer Jonathan Papelbon has been subject to some trade rumors, so somehow the Red Sox might be able to squeeze Zito into their staff.
The Mets have all kinds of question marks going into their season, especially with their pitching.
Barry Zito could be traded to the Mets and legitimately compete for a No. 2 or No. 3 spot in their rotation. They need some serious help in order to compete with both the Braves and the Phillies.
Maybe pitching in pitcher-friendly Citi Field will be of great benefit to Zito.
The Mets aren't the only New York team with SP concerns. The Yankees might be even worse off than the Mets.
They just lost Andy Pettite. They don't know what to do with Joba. They still have A.J. Burnett. They are hoping either Colon or Garcia can make somewhat of a comeback and be a dependable fifth starter.
Trading for Zito, though, might just make the matter worse. It will just add more fuel to the fire. However, never count the Yankees out of any trades because of their buying and selling powers.
OK I cheated again, but if you really think about it...It is just not even possible that Barry Zito can be traded.
There is just too much money left on his contract and Zito has not shown even a glimmer of hope that he can snap out of the slump he is in.
The Giants are just going to have to take their medicine and keep Zito, unless they want to eat upwards of about 80 percent of his salary.
The best thing for San Francisco to do is to keep Zito as their fifth starter.
He may be one of the best No. 5s in the league—even if he is one of the most overpaid.