With most of the biggest free agents now off the market, attention now turns to the a more risky yet intriguing options. Qualifying offer players, such as Ian Desmond, Dexter Fowler, and Yovani Gallardo, still remain on the market. While no one has questioned the talent of those players, they still come with some question marks. However, players like Doug Fister and Cliff Lee come with even bigger question marks. Tim Lincecum falls in that second camp.
Coming off perhaps the worst, and certainly the most frustrating, year of his career, Lincecum is attempting to make a comeback from his unceremonious end to the 2015 season. With a nagging hip injury in 2015, one that sapped both his velocity and his overall pitching ability, Lincecum was clearly a shell of his former back-to-back Cy Young winning self.
To be fair to Lincecum, that injury really limited what he could do on the hill recently. Even so, Lincecum hasn’t really been great for the Giants since the 2011 season, in which he pitched to a 2.74 ERA and finished with a WAR of 4.0. Lincecum actually hasn’t had an ERA under 4.00 since that 2011 season or a WAR above 2.0, despite making almost every start until this past season.
As mentioned above, the 2015 season was perhaps his most disappointing of all, finishing with a 4+ ERA in only 15 total starts. Although Lincecum was at nearly his worst last season, he made it clear that he would be looking to make a comeback and signing a contract for the 2016 season.
free agent tim lincecum is shooting for the first half of february to hold a throwing showcase for teams
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 22, 2016
Now nearly fully healed from his hip surgery last year, Lincecum is preparing to hold a showcase within the first half of February to show what he can still do on the mound. Lincecum had surgery to treat his degenerative hip in September, and was originally looking to hold a showcase for teams in January.
To this point in the offseason, the only team that has really shown any sort of interest is the Miami Marlins, who have also showed interest in several other veterans looking to bounce back from injury or poor performance, including Cliff Lee and Doug Fister. It was unclear whether the Giants would be interested in a reunion, but given their signings of both Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija, that appears unlikely. There are plenty of teams that should be interested, but it’s tough to pinpoint who could make a move.
I am here to say the San Diego Padres should be very interested in Lincecum’s showcase next month. Currently the Padres have a rotation led by Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner, and James Shields, barring any last minute offseason trades, followed by some uncertainty, with options including Colin Rea, Brandon Morrow, Drew Pomeranz, Luis Perdomo, and a few others. Lincecum would be a risk, in a similar vein to the risks taken with both Morrow and Josh Johnson, neither of which panned out. Even so, Lincecum is a former Cy Young winner, and if healthy he could regain at least some of that previous form.
With Lincecum apparently set to begin throwing next week, that’s according to his physical therapist, the Padres should really be watching Lincecum’s return to health carefully. If his agent is to be believed, Lincecum is apparently having no hip issues and is doing well in his progress to this point. It’s unclear what kind of pitcher Lincecum can be even if his hip is healthy, but it is still an encouraging sign.
In the Majors you can never have too much pitching depth. The same rings true for the San Diego Padres, and they should take every chance they can to improve their staff. Lincecum looks to finally be healthy following his hip surgery, making his showcase a must see event for the Padres front office. If Lincecum looks good in that showcase, the Padres should jump at the chance to keep Lincecum in California, this time for the Padres. At this point in the offseason, it is a shot worth taking.