Despite much speculation around the media, Tim Lincecum will not become a Mariner this offseason.
It is being reported that “The Freak” has come to terms with the San Francisco Giants on a 2 year, $35 million deal to return to the team with which he has gone from two-time Cy Young winner, to really shaky, to solid. The deal comes after Lincecum said he would reject the Giants’ qualifying offer, and seek a 2 or 3 year deal instead.
On the aforementioned shakiness, Lincecum has not been quite the same pitcher in the last two years as he was in his first few seasons. He posted a 5.18 ERA and 4.18 FIP in 2012, which was a huge decline from his previous Cy Young form of 2008 and 2009, and even from his less impressive 2010 and 2011 form.
Last year, Timmy regained some of his success, but not to the extent he, and his fans, may have liked. He ended up checking in with a 4.37 ERA and 3.74 FIP, which is pretty average on the surface. However, he showed flashes of his old self at times, and that is likely why he is going to be payed $17 million a year.
Of course, this means the Mariners have to turn their attention elsewhere to fill in that third rotation spot behind King Felix Hernandez and (Prince?) Hisashi Iwakuma. Now, there was never anything official vis-a-vis the Mariners pursuing Lincecum, but it certainly made sense for them to do so.
The M’s rotation was inconsistent at best during 3 out of every 5 games, so bringing in a middle of the rotation starter to sure up the staff is likely something Jack will look to do this offseason.
It can be argued that this contract was too lucrative to throw at someone who really hasn’t been “good” for over 2 years, and seems to be less dominant stuff-wise as he goes on. I might end up agreeing, depending on how the market turns out. We have to keep in mind that the going rate for players is always rising, and what seemed expensive last year, could be a good deal this year.
Some other pitchers that Seattle can turn it’s attention to in lieu of Lincecum are Matt Garza, Hiroki Kuroda, Ubaldo Jiminez and Masahiro Tanaka of Japan. There are also some bounce-back candidates who, if cheap, could be of value to the M’s. These names include Josh Johnson and Roy Halladay, both of whom struggled mightily last year after being aces earlier in their career.
My favorite name above is Tanaka, who has dominated in Japan, and is also just 25 years old. Of course, that means he won’t come cheap, and despite their recent success, international players are not sure things. If Tanaka becomes too expensive, Garza could be a safer and cheaper, albeit also less exciting, option.