The Minnesota Twins front office will most certainly hit the ground running once the World Series ends in an effort to address the team’s biggest offseason need-starting pitching. Free agency and trades are both options, as the team looks likely to have some money to spend if they choose and there are also a few players on the current roster that could draw interest from other teams in trade talks. Any potential trade would theoretically clear even more payroll and facilitate more moves.
The San Francisco Giants have made a surprising run to the World Series, even taking a 1-0 lead as of this writing, and have done so with minimal contribution from most of their highest-paid players. One such player is starting pitcher Tim Lincecum, who struggled so much during the regular season (10-15, 5.18 ERA, 33 starts-186 innings) that he has only started one of his five postseason appearances thus far. He had a noted drop in velocity, which certainly helped him allow a National League-high 107 earned runs during the regular season as he did not earn a trip to the All-Star Game for the first time in his five full major league seasons.
Recent speculation has suggested the Giants will make Lincecum available via trade this winter, but the fact he is due to make $22 million next season in the final year of his contract is a serious roadblock to any trade and would limit the number of teams that would have interest.
Lincecum was one of the best pitchers in all of baseball from 2008-2011, as he won back-to-back Cy Young Awards (2008, 2009) and led the National League in strikeouts in three straight seasons from 2008-2010. But his unique delivery and slight frame (5’11″, 170 lbs.) created concerns about his long-term health even with that success. The Giants clearly echoed those concerns when they were only willing to sign him to a two-year deal after the 2011 season, though Lincecum did reportedly turn down a five-year, $100 million extension. In any case, being relegated to the bullpen suggests he has become a disposable part in that team’s grand plan right now.
The Twins may not be willing to take on Lincecum’s 2013 salary, and probably rightfully so under the circumstances. But the Giants are also not in a power position right now given the season he is coming off, so they may have to pay a sizable chunk of that $22 million to get a deal done with Minnesota or any other team. That does assume San Francisco general manager Brian Sabean is seriously willing to dangle Lincecum in trade talks during the offseason, which is far from a guarantee.
That said, the Giants do have a need in the outfield with players like Gregor Blanco and Angel Pagan currently in place in left and center field respectively. So adding an outfielder would seem to be one of their biggest needs this winter, and Sabean is likely to look everywhere he can to find an upgrade. The Twins have a player that would seem to fit that need, and also offers some cost control as he is under team control for at least the next two seasons along with a $9 million club option for 2015. Paging Denard Span…