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Athletics sign Barry Zito to minor league deal

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The 36-year old lefty gives Oakland pitching depth.

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Barry Zito started his career in Oakland, and the veteran lefty will return to California with hopes of making a comeback. According to Susan Slusser of The San Francisco Chronicle, the Athletics signed Zito to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

CBS Sports' Jon Heyman notes Zito will receive $1 million with $175,000 worth of possible incentives, with MLB.com's Jane Lee reporting Zito will only receive the $1 million base if he earns a spot on the major league roster.

Zito, 36, last pitched in 2013 as a member of the Giants. In 133.1 innings pitched, Zito posted a 5.74 ERA and 4.92 FIP. He has also proven to be a durable option when healthy, pitching at least 180 innings in 11 of his 14 major league seasons. While Zito did not pitch last season, according to Yahoo! Sports, he has consistently made it known that he would like to play at the major league level in 2015.

Oakland drafted Zito in the first round of the 1999 draft. He spent the first seven seasons of his career with the Athletics, and was a three-time All-Star and also won the 2002 American League Cy Young award.

After a solid 2006 season, during which Zito posted a 3.83 ERA and 4.89 FIP in 221.0 innings pitched, he signed a seven-year, $126 million contract with San Francisco. According to Yahoo! Sports' Israel Fehr, that was the largest contract to ever be given to a starting pitcher at that time. Although the Giants were confident Zito would continue to have success, he posted a 63-80 record over seven seasons.

The Athletics have been seeking starting depth, with Scott Kazmir and Sonny Gray the only two arms who have spots secured within the rotation. Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin are both expected to return from Tommy John surgery at some point in 2015, with Jesse Chavez, Drew Pomeranz, Jesse Hahn, Chris Bassitt, and Sean Nolin expected to compete for starting spots this spring.