Sat, Dec 30, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Giants, Zito reach huge preliminary agreement

AP , NEW YORK

Barry Zito and the San Francisco Giants reached a preliminary agreement on the largest contract for a pitcher in Major League Baseball history, a US$126 million seven-year deal.

While there was no immediate confirmation from the Giants, details of the contract were provided Thursday to the Associated Press by two persons familiar with the negotiations who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal had not been announced by the team.

Zito's agreement, reached late on Wednesday night, includes a US$18 million option for 2014 that could increase the contract's value to US$144 million. The option would become guaranteed if Zito pitches 200 innings in 2013, 400 combined in 2012 and 2013 or 600 combined from 2011-13.

Zito was scheduled to have a physical yesterday and the Giants planned to announce their agreement with the three-time All-Star later in the day. His decision to sign with the Giants first was reported on MLB.com.

Zito's deal ties for the sixth largest overall, matching the US$126 million, seven-year extension agreed to this month by Toronto and center fielder Vernon Wells. Previously, the largest contract for a pitcher was Mike Hampton's US$121 million, eight-year deal with the Colorado Rockies before the 2001 season.

Texas, Seattle and the New York Mets also pursued Zito, the top available pitcher on the free-agent market.

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