Zito, Weaver among 21 players to file for free agency
Other prominent players to declare were Los Angeles Dodgers righthanders Greg Maddux and Eric Gagne, Detroit Tigers first baseman Sean Casey, Toronto Blue Jays catcher Bengie Molina and New York Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams.
But the marquee name to hit the open market Tuesday clearly was Zito, a 28-year-old lefthander with a wealth of postseason experience and a Cy Young Award already on his resume.
A three-time All-Star, Zito went 16-10 with a 3.83 ERA in 34 starts this past season and tossed eight brilliant innings to lead Oakland to a 3-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins in Game One of the American League Division Series. But he was far from stellar in perhaps his last outing with the A's, surrendering five runs in a 5-1 loss to the Tigers in Game One of the AL Championship Series.
However, with his impressive track record, Zito figures to earn a huge contract from a rich team desperate for pitching. The lefthander is 102-63 with a 3.55 ERA in seven seasons with the A's. His best campaign was 2002, when he went 23-5 with a 2.75 ERA en route to the Cy Young Award.
While Zito has a long history of success to draw from, Weaver hopes to cash in on his recent exploits. After struggling to an 8-14 record and a 5.76 ERA with St. Louis and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim over the regular season, Weaver was brilliant in the postseason, going 3-2 with a 2.43 ERA in five starts.
Often criticized for his negative demeanor, Weaver produced positive results when it mattered most. The righthander struck out nine over eight outstanding innings last Friday to lead the Cardinals to a 4-2 victory over the Tigers and their first World Series title since 1982.
Weaver, 30, is 86-101 with a 4.58 ERA in eight seasons with St. Louis, Anaheim, Detroit, the Dodgers and the New York Yankees.
A future Hall of Famer, Maddux looked rejuvenated after being dealt from the Chicago Cubs to the Dodgers at the trade deadline last July. The 40-year-old righthander went 6-3 with a 3.30 ERA with Los Angeles after going 9-11 with a 4.69 ERA for Chicago.
A four-time Cy Young winner and eight-time All-Star, Maddux is 333-203 with a 3.07 ERA in 21 career seasons with the Dodgers, Cubs and the Atlanta Braves. He ranks 10th on baseball's all-time list for career wins.
Gagne, 30, was once baseball's most dominant reliever but has fallen on hard times of late, undergoing multiple surgeries on his pitching elbow. The righthander appeared in just two games with the Dodgers in 2006 before suffering another season-ending elbow injury.
The NL Cy Young winner in 2003, Gagne recorded 152 saves from 2002-2004 but has appeared in just 16 games since.
Casey emerged as Detroit's best hitter this past postseason, batting .432 (16-for-37) with two home runs and nine RBIs. A three-time All-Star, Casey is a career .302 hitter with 126 homers in nine-plus seasons with the Tigers, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Cincinnati Reds and the Cleveland Indians.
One of the game's best defensive catchers, Molina enjoyed one of his finest offensive campaigns in 2006. The 32-year-old batted .284 with a career-high 19 homers and 57 RBIs in his first season with the Blue Jays.
A two-time Gold Glove winner, Molina owns a .275 career average with 84 homers in eight-plus seasons with Toronto and Anaheim.
A five-time All-Star and former AL batting champion, the 38-year-old Williams clearly has declined physically over the last several years. He batted .281 with 12 homers and 61 RBIs despite serving primarily as a platoon player with the Yankees in 2006.
A key contributor on the Yankees' four championship clubs from 1996-2000 and a fan favorite at Yankee Stadium, Williams is a career .297 hitter with 287 homers in 16 seasons, all with New York.
This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index
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