Stop me if you’ve heard this one. The Padres sign a has-been who is coming off a bad year and hope he will turn things around inside the pitcher-friendly confines of Petco Park.
Heck, they’ve already done that a bunch this off-season. But I’d like them to do it at least one more time.
It’s at least worth the time and effort to kick the tires on Tim Lincecum.
Before you skip to the comments section you should know I am fully aware of his 9.16 ERA with the Angels last year. It’s not a secret he is 6 years removed from his last season with a sub-4 ERA. I’m not going to lie and say his peripheral numbers were actually okay last year. They weren’t. 1.39 K/BB is terrible and he gave up 11 HR in only 38 1/3 innings.
However, those are the reasons the Padres should take a chance on him: because he won’t get a major league contract. I mean, he won’t get one from the Padres, or anyone else. I am assuming, and so far I am correct, that he will have to go to spring training on a minor league deal and earn a spot on a big league roster. That being the case, there are a few compelling arguments for bringing in The Freak.
First, the Padres are not going to add a veteran, established starter to this rotation. 2017 is not a contending year and the Padres are wise to attempt reclamation projects like Jhoulys Chacin, Clayton Richard, Trevor Cahill, and so on. The idea is to give a number of guys a chance to rebuild their name, pick the best of the litter, and use them as either trade chips or back-end guys for 2018. Since 2017 isn’t going to be special anyway, why not?
Secondly, Lincecum, or Jake Peavy, or Doug Fister for that matter, wouldn’t be taking up a roster spot of a young and up-and-coming player. The Padres big pitching prospects (Anderson Espinoza, Cal Quantrill, Eric Lauer) are not going to be ready at any point this year. Again, the team is treading water in 2017. So, the argument that he would be pointlessly blocking someone is fairly moot.
Thirdly, what if you strike gold? What if Lincecum has a little something left? There are numerous examples of supposedly washed up and/or failed players who have turned back into something with the help of Darren Balsley and Petco Park. The list is extensive, but just to name a few: Drew Pomeranz, Jesse Hahn, Fernando Rodney and Ian Kennedy. After some time in San Diego, these pitchers have either been traded for another, younger player or, in the case of Kennedy, turned into a draft pick from a rejected qualifying offer.
Finally, I have to assume Lincecum has something to offer the young guys in spring training. For a few weeks, the kids get to share camp with the big guys. I’d love to see if the 2-time Cy Young winner can teach a few things to the prospects in the pipeline. Obviously, if he is not interested in this role, one would hope to find that out during the contract negotiation process. If Timmy isn’t interested, so be it, but it doesn’t cost a thing to ask.
Would Lincecum win more than a handful of games? Probably not. Will he be a difference maker on a contenting Padres’ team? I highly doubt it. But if he is cheap, bordering on free, there’s enough reasons to find his agent’s number and make the call.