Rangers give Zito to end of week for decision
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels confirmed the reported deadline in an e-mail to The Associated Press on Wednesday night.
Zito and his agent, Scott Boras, met with owner Tom Hicks, Daniels and other Rangers officials in a visit to Texas on Nov. 30. Zito and Boras have also met with the New York Mets, and the Yankees could pursue the 2002 AL Cy Young Award winner if they trade Randy Johnson.
Texas would still be interested in Zito after this weekend, but its offer could change significantly.
When announcing the trade with the White Sox last weekend, Daniels said he wasn't optimistic about Zito joining the Rangers. Daniels also said the fifth spot in the rotation could be filled from within, if necessary.
Daniels wouldn't be specific about the Zito situation then, but said "be careful believing the rumors out there" -- including some that the Rangers have offered the left-hander more than $100 million. Hicks has also said such reports were untrue.
Hicks told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that the Rangers have "made a very strong offer. If we don't have agreement with his agent by this weekend, we will pursue other alternatives."
Boras 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. Millwood was 16-12 this season after being the team's key free-agent addition last winter, when Boras got the right-hander a $60 million, five-year deal.
Zito is 102-63 in 222 career starts, including a 16-10 mark with a 3.83 ERA in 34 starts this year before becoming a free agent.
The Rangers are still negotiating with Mark Mulder, one of Zito's former teammates in Oakland who has pitched the last two seasons in St. Louis. Mulder, who averaged 18 victories per season from 2001-05, is coming off shoulder surgery that ended his 2006 season with the Cardinals and will keep him from pitching at the start of 2007.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press