Tigers, Others Interested In Lincecum As A Reliever

Several teams, including the Tigers, have interest in acquiring Tim Lincecum from the Giants but as a relief pitcher instead of a starter, FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi reports.  Lincecum has only made one regular season relief appearance in his seven-year Major League career, but he allowed just one run over 13 relief innings during the Giants' postseason run last October.  Though Lincecum returned to the San Francisco rotation this year, Morosi notes that he may eventually be tabbed for a bullpen role in the future.

The Tigers have been looking for an answer at closer all season, and while Joaquin Benoit has pitched well in the role as of late, Lincecum could be a game-changing addition at the back of the Detroit bullpen (or, Benoit could remain as closer as Lincecum could simply be used for other important relief situations).  It would be a somewhat difficult trade to negotiate for the Tigers or any team that wished to use Lincecum out of the pen, given that the Giants would likely still be looking for a return befitting that of a solid starting pitcher. 

As Morosi writes, the Giants may want to keep Lincecum given that they're still on the outskirts of the NL West race.  The World Series champs might be loath to deal Lincecum given that they're already known to be looking for starting pitching help and recently came up short in a bid to acquire Ricky Nolasco.  On the other hand, Lincecum is a free agent this winter and is owed $10.2MM for the remainder of the 2013 season, so if the Giants decided to become sellers, moving Lincecum's salary would be a key move as the club reloads for 2014.

I wrote back in February that Lincecum's upcoming free agency made this a make or break year for the two-time Cy Young Award winner, and to this point, Lincecum has showed signs that his disappointing 2012 campaign may have been an aberration.  Lincecum has a posted a 9.71 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 over 19 starts, the best of which was a no-hitter against the Padres on Saturday.  Lincecum has been hurt by some bad luck in the form of a .312 BABIP and 67.4% strand rate — his advanced metrics (3.34 FIP, 3.25 xFIP, 3.54 SIERA) indicate that his 4.26 ERA should be lower.  As I recently noted on MLBTR's sister fantasy site Roto Authority, Lincecum was a good buy-low candidate for your fantasy league, though the no-hitter has likely upped his value.

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