San Francisco Giants right hander Tim Lincecum made headlines this past weekend because of a haircut that traded his long locks of hair for a shorter more mature look, yet this blogger wonders if this will be the only trade that Lincecum will be part of this season. Has anyone else been paying attention to what is going on in San Francisco? Once believed to be one of baseball’s premier pitchers and a former two time Cy Young Award winner, Lincecum struggled mightily last season for the Giants and wound up being demoted to the bullpen during the Giants World Series championship run. There is no indication that Lincecum has fallen out of favor with the Giants, nor has there been any indication that the Giants are looking to move their once star pitcher, but one must wonder, could Lincecum be had for the right price?
There is no doubting that when Lincecum is on, he is one of baseball’s premier pitchers and possesses electrifying stuff. In his six years of big league service, Lincecum has accumulated a career record of 79 wins and 56 losses with a 3.31 ERA and 1,317 strikeouts in 189 games pitched. Last season—however—was a complete train wreck for Lincecum when he posted a 10-15 record with a 5.18 ERA in 33 games started, which culminated with Lincecum being moved to the bullpen during the postseason. It is for this reason—in addition to the recent extension given to pitcher Matt Cain for 112.5 million and the Giants depth at the pitching position—that Lincecum could possibly be had if the Minnesota Twins—or any other team—would offer the right package of pieces to the Giants. The Giants have a lot of money invested in their rotation and could be hesitant to throw another 100 million dollar contract to a pitcher who had a down season and saw his fastball bottom out to an average of 90 mph, the lowest in his career. If the Giants are hesitant to sign him, then why would the Twins want to acquire a pitcher with so many question marks? The reason is because they could get him at his lowest possible value, but also because he is exactly the type of pitcher that the Twins’ organization has failed to pursue each year in free agency. He is also the type of pitcher this staff needs: a veteran power pitcher who is entering the prime of his career. Even at his worst, Lincecum provides more upside and talent than any pitcher currently in the Twins rotation. With the team not poised to contend for likely two seasons, Lincecum would have time to adjust to the American League and find his form that once made him so dominant.
Lincecum is set to earn $22 million this year and any deal for the pitcher would need to include an extension if it is to make any sense. A potential package of Josh Willingham, Justin Morneau and Brian Duensing/Jared Burton would seem to make the money work, but also would be a good starting point for discussions for the pitcher; however, the Giants may want to acquire a young prospect or a player like Glen Perkins to fill their vacant closer role. Acquiring Lincecum would require the Twins to give up a lot of pieces on the current team, but if the Twins can keep their young core intact and trade a veteran and bullpen piece to a team ready to contend now, this is a beneficial trade for the organization. Indications are that the Twins will look to trade Morneau and/or Willingham at the trade deadline this year to help acquire more pieces for the future and get as much value for them as possible. In my opinion, Lineceum is better than any player they can acquire at the deadline so why not strike now? Lincecum would require a new contract in the $100 million range which would eat up a lot of the Twins payroll, but for a team in need of pitching and a pitcher needing a fresh start wouldn’t it be worth it to roll the dice? If the contract is over five or more years, I’d say it would be. This is a far-fetched idea that has a one-in-a-million chance of occurring, but like Lloyd Christmas once said, “So you’re saying there’s a chance?” Yes, there is a chance; but sadly, it isn’t a likely one.