It’s been a whole week since Tim Lincecum had his big showcase in Arizona, and so far no team has signed the former two-time Cy Young winner to a contract. It’s unclear as to why: maybe Lincecum’s demands are too high, maybe teams weren’t impressed with what they saw, or maybe teams are bidding $1 on his showcase and hoping other teams go over. It works on The Price is Right, after all.
Whatever the reason, Lincecum remains unsigned with a desire to rejoin a team’s starting rotation and re-establish his value. And while a number of teams could use starting pitching, there are a handful that seem to make the most sense. Let’s take a look at five teams that represent the best fits for Lincecum on the market:
San Francisco Giants: The only team he’s ever known still makes a lot of sense for Lincecum, even if it means moving to the bullpen for the time being. He’d likely start off in a long relief role, a spot the Giants have struggled with this year after letting Yusmeiro Petit walk in free agency. He could also find himself in some short relief situations at the end of games if his stuff is good enough.
But if Lincecum truly just wants to start, he could eventually get that chance in San Francisco due to the struggles of Matt Cain and Jake Peavy. If they continue to falter, the Giants don’t have many options in the minors to turn to. Lincecum would almost surely get a chance to prove his problems are behind him. And as an added bonus, Lincecum is beloved in San Francisco and wouldn’t face the kind of scrutiny he might face elsewhere. The fans will embrace him no matter what.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: They lost Garrett Richards for the year, and their rotation is filled with less-than-satisfying options like Jered Weaver and Matt Shoemaker. If Lincecum didn’t want to waste time in the bullpen, Anaheim would be a great place for him. He’d likely be inserted into the rotation as soon as he was ready to go and stay there.
He’d have to deal with American League lineups, which may not be ideal as he tries to find himself on the mound again, and he’d be pitching in front of a fan base that has no connection to and wouldn’t go easy on him if he falters. But if re-establishing himself as a starting pitcher is all that matters to him, there aren’t many better destinations.
Chicago White Sox: The Sox are playing well, pacing the AL Central while not getting much from the back end of their rotation. John Danks was ineffective before getting released, Carlos Rodon has been a major disappointment, Mat Latos is due for a regression, and no one else has stepped up to fill out the staff.
Lincecum, if healthy, would represent a big upgrade even if he just performs to league average. Like in Anaheim, Lincecum has a seemingly easy path to starting on the south side. The added benefit would be pitching for a contender, something the Angels don’t look like early on.
Oakland Athletics: The A’s haven’t been linked to Lincecum since his showcase, which is surprising considering he’d make a lot of sense for them. Aside from Rich Hill, their rotation has been in shambles this year. Sonny Gray is struggling, and the rest of their starters are nondescript guys who could be easily replaced.
Lincecum could be a major part of their rotation going forward should he sign there. The A’s are desperate for starting pitchers, Lincecum is desperate to be a starter again, and it seems like too good of a match to be true. He’d also get to stay in the Bay Area, even though it’d probably kill Giants fans to see him in green and gold.
San Diego Padres: They just claimed Hector Sanchez off of waivers, which is interesting considering he was Lincecum’s personal catcher in San Francisco. And even though the Padres have said claiming Sanchez was nothing more than adding catching depth to the organization, the timing seems just a little suspect.
There’s a spot for Lincecum in their rotation, and the Padres play in one of the more pitcher-friendly ballparks in baseball. He could re-establish himself there before hitting the market this winter when quality starters will be in short supply.