Zito's Giants deal worth about $18M per year

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Bay Area's other Barry is the new face
of the San Francisco Giants -- now and well into the future.

Barry Zito and the Giants reached a preliminary agreement on the
largest pitcher contract in baseball history, a $126 million,
seven-year deal. Zito joins the Giants three weeks after the club
came to terms on a new $16 million, one-year contract with slugger
Barry Bonds for a 15th season.

A source familiar with Zito's contract told ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick that the agreement includes an $18
million option for 2014 with a $7 million buyout that could
increase the value to $137 million. The option would become
guaranteed if Zito pitches 200 innings in 2013, 400 combined over
2012 and 2013 or 600 combined from 2011-13. Zito also has a full
no-trade clause.

"We view Zito as a franchise player, and we'll certainly need one when Bonds goes," a Giants source told The San Francisco Chronicle.

Zito's father, Joe, and Zito's publicist, Kathy Jacobson,
confirmed the deal, while the Giants were waiting for Zito to take
a physical Friday before making things official. San Francisco
planned to formally introduce the three-time All-Star sometime next

"I think it's a very, very good fit," Joe Zito said. "Truly,
I am respectful of the owners who came forward and would believe in
Barry to such a degree that they would go this far. I am profoundly
respectful of that. He is truly happy."

The deal ties for the sixth largest overall, matching the $126
million, seven-year extension agreed to this month by Toronto and
center fielder Vernon Wells.

"It's a huge piece of the puzzle as far as solidifying our
rotation," fellow Giants lefty starter Noah Lowry said. "We have
a couple of No. 1-caliber pitchers. I'm obviously going to be able
to learn from him. I think the seasons as long as they are and as
grueling as they can be, he hasn't missed a start and that says a
lot about the guy and his durability."

The Giants, who missed the playoffs
the past three seasons, were looking for someone to fill the void
left when ace Jason Schmidt departed earlier this month for the
rival Los Angeles Dodgers.

"A lot of money," Zito's former Oakland teammate Mark Ellis
said. "I was shocked. That's great for him. That's a good place
for him. There couldn't be a better fit I don't think. Obviously,
we wanted him in Oakland."

Giants general manager Brian Sabean had said the team had money
to spend for a top pitcher, and Bonds agreed to defer some of the
money from his new contract to give the team flexibility to improve
the roster. Sabean never said how much money the Giants had to
spend, but Zito's contract far surpasses the $90 million, five-year
contract the club gave to Bonds after his record-setting 2001

The Giants' top brass -- including owner Peter Magowan, executive
vice president Larry Baer, Sabean and new manager Bruce Bochy -- had
a long dinner with Zito and his agent, Scott Boras, at the posh
Peninsula hotel in Beverly Hills on Nov. 26. The sides hit it off.

Previously, the largest contract for a pitcher was Mike
Hampton's $121 million, eight-year deal with the Colorado Rockies
before the 2001 season. Kevin Brown received a $105 million deal
from 1999-2005. Both players have dealt with injury problems and
struggled, with Brown going 72-45 during his contract and Hampton
posting a 53-48 record so far.

Texas, Seattle and the New York Mets also pursued Zito, the top
available pitcher on the free-agent market. The 28-year-old
left-hander spent the last seven seasons across San Francisco Bay
pitching with the Athletics, and staying in the area appeared to be
a factor in his decision.

"We gave it our best shot," Rangers owner Tom Hicks said in an
e-mail to the AP. "He's a great pitcher and a fine young man. I
wish him well and am glad he's out of the AL West."

Zito has been among the most durable pitchers in the majors,
making 34 or more starts and throwing 210 or more innings in six
straight seasons. He has never missed a start. His reliability and
impressive offseason work ethic _ not to mention he already has a
devoted fan base in the area -- was a big reason the Giants were
willing to make such a big commitment, fully aware of the risks
involved in doing so.

"We were not willing to go to the seven-year areas he said he
-- Mets GM Omar Minaya

Zito went 16-10 with a 3.83 ERA last season and has a 102-63
career record with a 3.55 ERA. He won the 2002 AL Cy Young Award
after going 23-5.

"He's so young still, and he's so durable," Ellis said. "If I
was a team going to give money to someone, it would be to him. I
don't see anything wrong with Barry getting that much. Give money
to someone who's going to go out there every fifth day."

Zito will lead a rotation that features Matt Cain, coming off a
strong rookie season, lefty Noah Lowry and Matt Morris. The fifth
spot is still to be determined, with several candidates in the mix.

"It takes a lot of pressure off two people, which I think is
very important," Giants first baseman and outfielder Mark Sweeney
said. "Matt Cain is one of them. Taking Jason Schmidt's spot is
asking a lot. I think that would be pushing it a little bit, even
though he's going to be our No. 1 for years, and I think the world
of him. And also Matt Morris, who is going to bounce back. He put a
lot on his shoulders.

"I think it does a lot of that. It adds to the flexibility of
our staff, too. Having Noah Lowry third or fourth is pretty good."

As part of his agreement with the Giants, Zito will fund the
construction of youth fields in the San Francisco area through his
foundation. He also founded "Strikeouts for Troops" in 2005 to
help wounded service members and their families.

Only Alex Rodriguez ($252 million), Derek Jeter ($189 million),
Manny Ramirez ($160 million), Todd Helton ($141.5 million) and
Alfonso Soriano ($136 million) have contracts with more guaranteed

Zito's is the 14th $100 million deal in baseball history and the
fourth of the offseason following agreements by Soriano (Cubs),
Wells and Carlos Lee ($100 million with Houston).

New York's initial offer was for about $75 million over five
years, and the Mets were prepared to go somewhat higher in average
salary but were wary of offering a longer deal. Texas had told
Boras that it would withdraw its proposal if it wasn't accepted by
the end of the week.

Mets general manager Omar Minaya spoke late last week to Boras,
who told the GM that Zito had a seven-year deal on the table from
another team.

"We were not willing to go to the seven-year areas he said he
had," said Minaya, who conducted studies on the performances of
pitchers with lengthy deals. "This is one guy who has been
healthy, and we all wish him well. At the end of the day, the
history ... I could not recommend to my ownership to go to seven
guaranteed years."

Information from ESPN's Peter Gammons, ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick and The Associated Press were used in this report.