The contract surpasses Mike Hampton's eight-year, $121 million deal signed with the Colorado Rockies after the 2000 season. Roger Clemens, the seven-time Cy Young winner, earned $22 million last season with the Houston Astros, the highest one-year contract in baseball history.
In committing seven years to Zito, who will turn 35 early in the final season of the contract, the Giants were swayed in part by the pitcher's durability. In the past six seasons, Zito made 208 starts without missing a single one, averaging 223 innings and nearly 16 wins. He is nine games over .500 since his Cy Young season, though in that time he has twice finished in the American League's top 10 in ERA, including in 2006, when he was 16-10 with a 3.83 ERA.
Zito replaces Jason Schmidt, who signed a three-year, $47-million contract with the rival Los Angeles Dodgers three weeks ago, at the top of a Giants' rotation that includes Matt Cain, Matt Morris, Noah Lowry and Brad Hennessey.
Zito, 28, was the prize of a thin but lucrative pitchers' market, established by Gil Meche (five years, $55 million with the Kansas City Royals), Ted Lilly (four years, $40 million with the Chicago Cubs), Andy Pettitte (two years, $32 million with the New York Yankees), Daisuke Matsuzaka (six years, $52 million with the Boston Red Sox), Jeff Suppan (four years, $42 million with the Milwaukee Brewers) and Schmidt.