Before the 2012 season, Tim Lincecum made a decision to reject a four year, $100 million contract extension from the San Francisco Giants and instead, opted to sign a two year, $40.5 million contract which would make him a free agent after the 2013 season. Although there is a good portion of the 2013 season left to be played, the Giants will very soon be faced with a decision of if they want to bring Lincecum back.
After a very disappointing 2011 season where Lincecum had a record of 10-15, and an ERA of 5.18, so far through eight starts he has a 3-2 record and an ERA of 4.07. When looking at advanced analytics on Lincecum, the drop off from his prime seasons when he won the National League Cy Young award in 2008 and 2009 where he had a wins above replacement (WAR) average of 7.0 and 7.5 to 1.o last season and .5 so far this season clearly shows that he is no longer the pitcher he once use to be. This begs the question of if you are Giants general manager Brian Sabean, do you re-sign Lincecum or do you as an organization move on?
The Giants should and must move on from Lincecum once he hits free agency following this season. In some ways, the Giants have already begun to do so and have prepared themselves for letting Lincecum go. Last year, the Giants signed Matt Cain to a five year, $112.5 million contract extension with a vesting option that will keep him with the team until 2018. In addition to this big money signing, prior to the start of this season, the Giants locked up catcher Buster Posey to a nine year, $164 million contract extension which will keep him as a Giant until the 2021 season. These two big money deals mean that the Giants have close to $40 million tied up into two players, thus signalling that any other players seeking such big money deals are likely not to get them given the fiscal parameters the organization operates under.
Back to Lincecum, his struggles were so bad last season that he was relegated to bullpen duty during the postseason, one which saw the Giants go on to win its second World Series title in three seasons. Although Lincecum assumed and carried on with the role, it is hard to see him be so accepting if asked to do so in the future. Lincecum’s mechanics have always been an issue of concern and conversation amongst those in the game who wonder when he will begin to experience arm issues given that his delivery is one which sees him exert max effort each time he throws. The velocity on Lincecum’s fastball has dropped at least five mph from its peak, demonstrating he just no longer has the stuff to overpower hitters like he once did.
Tim Lincecum has been a valuable player for the Giants ever since he made his debut for the team back during the 2007 season. Along the way he has been a part of World Series winning squads, been considered one of if not the best pitcher in the game, and nicknamed “The Freak” given how dominant he was for his size. Yet, since the beginning of the 2012 season, Lincecum has been anything but a freak with his numbers and the advanced analytics proving that he has had a steep decline in performance. The future looks like one where Lincecum will no longer be a Giants player.
Lucas Carreras is a contributing San Francisco 49ers writer and MLB contributing writer for Rant Sports. You can follow Lucas on Twitter by following him at @mladini3fan and you can connect with him as well on Google+.