Zito has had a mediocre career with the Giants, putting up roughly league-average numbers in his four years in San Francisco. And while there is certainly a place on most teams for a pitcher like Zito, his performance has been far over-shadowed by his blockbuster seven-year, $126 million contract.
But now Zito, who has never been on the disabled list in his 11 seasons of play, finds himself out of a job. Ryan Vogelsong is firmly entrenched in Zito's spot in the rotation; Zito will be fighting Jonathan Sanchez and God knows who else for the spot down the stretch.
If the Giants try to deal Zito, it could be hard to find a buyer. They may be forced to eat a substantial part of Zito's $19 million annual salary or find a team with deep enough pockets to swallow the cost.
Here are four teams that could use Zito in the remainder of the 2011 season.
This isn't exactly a trade option, but it's still very possible that the Giants will need Barry Zito down the stretch.
With the Giants players plagued by injuries and playing a perpetual game of musical chairs, Zito could find himself the de facto fifth starter again, health allowing.
Jonathan Sanchez, even when healthy, has been less than effective this year. Dan Runzler, who lasted just 1.2 innings in his last start, could turn into an option, but is far from reliable. Other options, like long-relief man Guillermo Mota or Double-A pitcher Eric Surkamp, are being discussed as options, but each would come with its risks.
Zito, for reasons purely related to his pitching, could very likely remain a member of the Giants rotation.
The Red Sox entered the 2011 season as the best "on paper" team in the league. With major signings and trades in the offseason to solidify their lineup, the Sox cemented their position as an offensive powerhouse.
Their pitching, unfortunately, has been a little spottier. Injuries to Daisuke Matsuzaka and Clay Buchholz, and general ineffectiveness from John Lester and others, have forced the Red Sox to scramble for options; they have started 10 different pitchers throughout the year.
With the war chest of the Red Sox, they may look to acquire Zito after he gets healthy.
The possibility of Barry Zito going to the Yankees mirrors that of the Red Sox.
While New York's pitching staff has been hit by the injury bug less than Boston's, they've had a hard time finding consistent production from the pitchers they do have.
Bartolo Colon surprised everyone by putting up a 3.20 ERA in the first half of the year, but has declined recently, with a 4.83 ERA in the second half and a 5.21 ERA in his last nine starts.
Colon also missed time for injury earlier in the year.
Phil Hughes has also battled cases of dead arm earlier in the year and while he's been decent lately, he's still far from reliable.
If these or other pitchers bottom out, the Yankees may look to Zito as an answer.
After the Vernon Wells trade this past offseason, it's easy to make jokes at the expense of the Angels front office. The Angels picked up the last four years of Wells' seven-year, $126 million contract—a high cost for a slugger who is past his prime.
While they may be wary to make a move like this again, the Angels find themselves as serious contenders in the AL West and with only four reliable starters.
While Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana have all been excellent, and Tyler Chatwood a bit below average, Joel Pineiro's season has been hard on the Angels.
While Zito's 2011 ERA is even worse than Pineiro's, the Angels may be willing to take a chance on Zito's upside as a fifth starter, especially if the Giants eat some of his salary going forward.