A two-time National League Cy Young winner, former San Francisco Giants ace Tim Lincecum is on the market. Could a new start on the east coast be exactly what “The Freak” and the New York Yankees need?
By Jeff Weisinger
Former San Francisco Giants ace right-hander Tim Lincecum is looking to come back strong from hip surgery. The New York Yankees are looking to come back strong from a disappointing showing in the American League Wild Card.
Some could call it progress for the Yankees, especially after missing the postseason in 2013 and 2014, however others would say that the Yankees were better missing the playoffs completely, rather than suffering a three-hit, lackluster shutout to the Houston Astros.
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So considering that both, in a sense, need each other, the idea of Lincecum’s addition to the Yanks rotation seems perfect, right?
Yes and no.
According to NJ.com’s Ryan Hatch, the former two-time National League Cy Young winner will hold a showcase for scouts in early February, hoping to prove that he’s still got it in that right arm of his. Lincecum is coming back from both a dismal last three years and hip surgery he had in September.
— MLB Trade Rumors (@mlbtraderumors) January 23, 2016
The injury is the part that everyone’s concerned about. According to Dr. Marc Philippon, who performed the surgery, he expects him to pitch in 2016. Philippon is the same doctor who performed the same hip surgery on Yanks third baseman Alex Rodriguez.
Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, also expects him to pitch in 2016 and is very optimistic about it.
“He’s got no instability in his hip, and he’s enthusiastic about his progress,” Thurman said to the Chronicle.
Thurman also mentioned that all 30 MLB teams have inquired about Lincecum and 20 requested medical information. The Giants are also keeping in touch with Lincecum, although all signs point to him going somewhere else.
It’s almost a certainty that Lincecum will pitch somewhere in 2016, given how healthy he is. The question is … where?
The Yankees could be a very viable option, and Lincecum, if healthy enough, could be a solid candidate a Yankees organization that has succeed with reclamation projects in the past like Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia. Although Lincecum was 39-42 with a 4.68 ERA the last four seasons, he has been pretty successful during his time in the Bay Area overall, pitching on three World Series teams as both a starter and as a reliever, adding versatility to his arsenal.
Even at 31-years-old and having pitched over 1,600 regular season innings, Lincecum has never had any arm trouble, especially with his unique throwing motion, and could wind up as a reliable third or fourth starter, behind Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Severino and Nathan Eovaldi. Or, if CC Sabathia comes back strong in spring training, Lincecum could be a very strong fifth starter, adding much needed depth to the back of the rotation.
But that brings us to the Yankees rotation as it is now. There are many, many questions within the Yankees organization as a whole regarding their starting pitching — as is the case with the other 29 MLB teams. Outside of Tanaka, Severino, and maybe even Eovaldi, they lack a lot of depth in their starting pitching staff. Should either of those three go down during the season, or even get slightly hurt (more common amongst pitchers nowadays), adding a proven veteran like Lincecum would help during the dog-days of summer.
Then again, Lincecum could be the perfect bait for the Yankees to give-in to signing a major league player, something they haven’t done all winter.
Lincecum’s only 39-42 the last four years and hasn’t recorded an ERA below four since 2011. He’s only struck out 194 batters the last two years combined, a stat that sticks out a lot since he struck out over 190 batters in each season from 2008-2013.
The main factors in Lincecum’s arrival in the Bronx will be how he looks on the mound when he has his showcase and how much he’s going to cost. Remember, the Yankees are still looking to cut down on their spending and lower their overall player salary. Even with a full 40-man roster, the Yankees can sign him on a low-risk, minor league deal that has bonus clauses for making the big league team.
Yet, the best part about his potential signing with the pinstripes is the simple fact that he’s just overall weird. He would be a refreshing signing for the Yanks in a similar sense that Nick Swisher and A.J. Burnett were in 2009.
At least the Bombers got one, maybe two good years out of them … and a World Series title.
Weird is good. Timmy is weird. The Yankees won with weird. He’s worth the look, and, at the very least, worth a minor-league deal if healthy.