For teams still trying to improve their pitching situation and don’t have money to spend, Tim Lincecum trying to get back into Major League Baseball seems like a good option, with the Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers very interested in the former Cy Young winner, while the Miami Marlins and Houston Astros have money to spend, but no one to actually sign besides leftovers.
And Lincecum, at this stage of his career, is leftovers. The 31-year old was one of the best pitchers in baseball from 2008 through 2011, making four All-Star trips and winning the Cy Young award twice. He had a 2.81 ERA in 131 starts and 881.2 innings, posting a 1.173 WHIP and 3.11 strikeout-to-walk ratio. From 2012 it’s been very different, including last season with an injury that limited him to just 15 starts. SInce 2012, he’s thrown in just 615 innings, with a 4.68 ERA and a 2.16 strikeout-to-walks ratio. His fastball was 87.2 MPH when he last played, which means he’s going to need to show some serious stuff in his February showcase in order to impress.
For the Marlins, Lincecum is just someone to add, maybe on a minor league deal, to create some depth. They’ve made some impressive additions to their pitching staff, including Wei-Yin Chen from the Baltimore Orioles and Edwin Jackson. The Astros are still interested in signing Yovani Gallardo, but everything seems to be stalled on that front. Lincecum, if he does sign, isn’t going to cost a lot of money, and he might eventually settle for something like the incentive-heavy contract Bronson Arroyo signed with the Washington Nationals, which is a minor league deal as well.
For the Orioles and Rangers, it’s mostly about finding someone cheap who could add his experience and maybe recapture something from his ability of old. While having a bad season in 2015 (Lincecum, had a 4.13 ERA, 1.480 WHIP and 1.58 strikeout-to-walk ratio), he did have a few impressive performances that suggest there still might be something left there, although some think there’s no coming back after the hip surgery he had in September.
Lincecum was with the Giants from 2007 to 2015, playing a part (bigger or smaller, depending on the year) in three World Series runs. He made $18 million in 2015 and in 2013 it was $22 million. He’s not going to come close to these sums ever again, but after making just shy of $100 million in his baseball career, it’s about staying in the majors, not landing the biggest possible contract for him.