Zito in no hurry to find new home
Top free agent pitcher wants to find right fit
Barry Zito is in no hurry to make a decision about where he will next pitch. The free-agent left-hander is being courted by the Mets, Rangers, Mariners and Giants with the possibility that the Angels might get back in the hunt.
"It's wide open," Zito said in a lengthy interview with the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser. "It's early, very early; it's not even time for the decision-making process. I'm not just jumping in. I'm waiting for my instincts to kick in."
As for his Tuesday dinner with Mets brass and similar meetings with other clubs, Zito told Slusser, the Chronicle's Athletics beat writer: "It's just like, 'Hey, how are you?' I think all those kinds of meetings go well. Everyone just smiles, says, 'Hi.'''
Zito's agent, Scott Boras, said all the involved teams are starting to talk money. "We've gotten offers from every team we've dealt with," Boras told the Associated Press. "We're past the preliminary meet-and-greet stages."
"They're all good teams, and they're all good locations," Zito told the Chronicle, "but what I'm looking for is an owner who sees eye-to-eye with me in my goal to lead a team to multiple World Series championships. I want to raise the bar. It's great to get to the playoffs, but I think this year we were too satisfied with getting past the first round, myself included. I was so fired up to face [Johan] Santana at Minnesota that, coming back against Detroit, I don't think I had that same fire. So I'm working on some mental stuff. I'm not going to be satisfied with anything else except getting a ring at this point in my career. I'm trying to lead a team like Sandy Koufax did, and I need an owner who shares that desire."
Pirates-Braves: The ongoing saga involving Pirates reliever Mike Gonzalez has slowed again. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Friday that the Pirates' attempts to trade Gonzalez for a left-handed power hitter have dried up. Pittsburgh had been in discussions with the Yankees about Melky Cabrera and the Braves about Adam LaRoche, but the paper reports no meaningful discussions have taken place this week. The Braves won't trade LaRoche to Pittsburgh for Gonzalez alone, and want the Pirates to include another player in the deal. If the Braves are going to trade LaRoche, it appears the best suitor will be the Angels, who could be willing to provide both Chone Figgins and Casey Kotchman.
Brewers: Ken Rosenthal of FOXsports.com reported that the Brewers' four-year offer to free-agent righty Jeff Suppan is for $36-$40 million. Milwaukee is hoping the fact that Suppan is its No. 1 option helps sway him away from choices like the Mets, who are going after Zito first.
Indians: The Indians have signed veterans Joe Borowski, Roberto Hernandez and Aaron Fultz to bolster their bullpen, but GM Mark Shapiro has said he will continue to look for ways to improve the relief corps. The Boston Globe reported that the Tribe might be close to signing former Red Sox closer Keith Foulke. If that's the case, the Indians would have two viable candidates -- Foulke and Borowski -- for their closer job, both of whom come with their share of injury histories and concerns.
Red Sox: All indications are that the Red Sox won't finalize their five-year, $70 million contract with J.D. Drew until after Christmas. The Boston Herald reported that Boras, Drew's agent, is "reluctant" to change language in the deal that would protect Boston's financial investment should his surgically repaired right shoulder significantly limit his playing time. The Red Sox and GM Theo Epstein continue to decline comment about the ongoing situation, while Boras told the AP that his client has no physical limitation that would keep him from finalizing the contract.
Phillies: Signing catcher Rod Barajas and trading outfielder Jeff Conine may be the Phillies' last moves for a while, but the team is still seeking a left-handed hitter off the bench and a setup man. Jon Lieber is still being dangled for bullpen help, though it appears teams will wait to see where pitchers such as Suppan end up before dealing for Lieber.
Yankees: Shea Hillenbrand told the Newark Star-Ledger that he heard the Yankees are not interested in signing him to play first base because of concerns about his defense.
"It just baffles me that organizations have that perspective on me," said Hillenbrand, who denied he was holding out for a multiyear deal.
Jack O'Connell is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.