Tim Lincecum has yet to sign following last Friday’s showcase, which was attended by roughly two-thirds of the league, but a handful of reports today has at least eliminated a few teams from consideration. Per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter), both the Padres and Mariners are out of the mix on Lincecum at this point. While some San Diego fans speculated that the Friars’ claim of Hector Sanchez, who caught Lincecum during the pair’s San Francisco days, could be related, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune squashed that notion in relatively short order last night, tweeting that the Sanchez claim was unrelated to any pursuit of Lincecum and was instead merely about adding catching depth to the organization.
Beyond all of that, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro tweets that the Marlins, too, are unlikely to make a play for the right-hander at this time. Those reports join previous word out of Baltimore and Arizona that the Orioles and D-backs, respectively, aren’t expected to pursue Lincecum, either.
Rosenthal adds (Twitter link) that the Angels, Giants and White Sox currently have the most interest in Lincecum, which is the same list of clubs reported to be most intrigued this past weekend, with the notable exclusion of the D-backs. Per Rosenthal, no decision is close. Any of the three make sense as a landing spot, though Giants manager Bruce Bochy said last week that the club was only interested in a relief role for Lincecum, and fallen ace Matt Cain delivered a strong showing in his most recent start, by dominating the Blue Jays over eight innings. The Angels, meanwhile, picked up one arm yesterday by acquiring Jhoulys Chacin from the Braves, and while it’s hard to imagine that lone pickup leaving the Halos feeling like they have sufficient depth in the rotation in the wake of all the injuries they’ve incurred, it probably does curb some of the urgency to seek further rotation help.
As for the White Sox, they have some options to replace the recently released John Danks (former Oriole Miguel Gonzalez is getting the first crack at the fifth spot), but the rotation is suspect beyond Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and Carlos Rodon. Mat Latos started the year strong, but his lack of strikeouts and considerable fortune on balls in play made him a clear regression candidate through his first several starts, and the wheels have begun to come off as of late.
Amid the considerable Lincecum chatter, it seems worth addressing that it’s been five years since he posted an ERA south of 4.00 in a season, making it likelier that he stabilizes the back end of a rotation than emerges as a revitalized top-of-the-rotation force. Lincecum did post a 4.37 ERA and come within arm’s reach of 200 innings as recently as 2013 even while averaging 90.4 mph on his fastball, so there’s certainly reason to express optimism that he can help a club in 2016 with the aid of improved health. However, fans hoping for a return to the levels displayed in his Cy Young heyday are probably overreaching.