Rangers looking to Zito for depleted rotation

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Barry Zito met Thursday with the Texas Rangers, the team that failed to sign the ace left-hander after drafting him in 1998.

Barry Zito Zito

Zito and his agent, Scott Boras, visited with Rangers owner Tom
Hicks, general manager Jon Daniels and other team officials.

A year after the Rangers drafted Zito in the third round, Oakland made him a first-round pick in 1999 out of college. Zito went 102-63 in 222 starts for the Athletics the past seven seasons and won the AL Cy Young Award in 2002. He finished 16-10 with a 3.83 ERA in 34 starts this year, then became a free agent.

Zito expressed interest in Texas last month after Ron Washington, an Oakland coach the past 11 seasons, became the Rangers' manager.

With Kevin Millwood the only starter sure to return to their
rotation, the Rangers have been trying to add pitching. They were outbid for the negotiating rights to Japanese pitchers Daisuke Matsuzaka and Kei Igawa.

Free-agent right-hander Adam Eaton signed a $24 million,
three-year contract this week with Philadelphia, even after missing half of last season for Texas with a finger injury. Vicente Padilla, a 15-game winner for the Rangers, is still a free agent.

Millwood was 16-12 after being the team's key free-agent addition last winter. Boras got the right-hander a $60 million, five-year deal.

Boras, the agent for Matsuzaka, also negotiated the $252 million, 10-year deal Alex Rodriguez got from the Rangers in December 2000, and Texas' $65 million, five-year contract for Chan Ho Park the next year.