Free agent righty Tim Lincecum expects to wait until the calendar flips before seriously considering signing, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports. Having undergone hip surgery in September, the two-time Cy Young winner is hoping to return to health and put on a showcase in January.
Passan suggests that Lincecum and his camp are hoping that the procedure will help the 31-year-old rediscover some of his former form. Between 2008 and 2011, he compiled 881 1/3 innings of 2.81 ERA pitching with 10.0 K/9 against 3.2 BB/9. It’s been quite some time since Lincecum rated as a top-of-the-rotation arm, though, as his last All-Star appearance and sub-4.00 ERA came in the last year of that four-season run.
Lincecum has, however, shown the potential to deliver some innings since. His earned run average sits at 4.68 in 615 2/3 frames over the 2012-15 span, but he carries a 4.08 FIP in that time. Other metrics have been even more bullish on the righty in prior years, though both xFIP (4.64) and SIERA (4.82) panned his 15 starts in 2015. And Lincecum’s strikeout rate has continued to fall along with his velocity — though, somewhat curiously, his swinging strike rate was nearly as good as ever last year (10.7%) even as his average heater landed south of 88 mph.
It remains to be seen whether a healthy hip will fuel a late-career burst, but it seems likely that clubs will be intrigued to see how Lincecum looks. Interestingly, his plans also seem to indicate a willingness to fully test the market, suggesting that a return to the Giants may not be in the offing. (It had been reported earlier this fall that San Francisco might be interested in striking a minor league deal.)
Regardless of what kind of show he can put on come January, the likelihood is that Lincecum will land a one-year contract — both because that’s all the market will give and because he’ll want a chance to re-enter free agency after a better platform season. If Lincecum can show enough to achieve guaranteed money, odds are it’ll be fairly modest, though he also seems a likely candidate for an incentive-rich contract.