Tim Lincecum is throwing in preparation for the upcoming season and is still hopeful of finding another opportunity in the majors, agent Rick Thurman tells Andrew Baggarly of the Bay Area News Group. Lincecum has no plans to retire, or to look for offers outside of Major League Baseball, Thurman said.
After signing a prorated $2.5MM deal with the Angels last May, Lincecum posted a 9.16 ERA, 7.5 K/9, and 1.39 K/BB rate over 38 1/3 innings for the Halos. Some degree of bad luck was involved in those numbers (a .432 BABIP and a whopping 22.9% home run rate), though Lincecum only averaged 87.2 mph on his fastball. He threw that fastball a career-low 42.9% of the time, as Lincecum adjusted to his declining velocity by trying a more finesse-based pitching attack, such as tossing a changeup 29.4% of the time (well above his previous high of 24.5%).
Lincecum underwent hip surgery in September 2015 and his return from injury drew quite a bit of interest, as his showcase was attended by scouts from over half the teams in the big leagues. In the wake of his rough 2016 campaign, however, Baggarly feels Lincecum will have to settle for a minor league deal if he is to catch on with a big league club this offseason.
Lincecum signed with the Angels in part because they were willing to commit to using him as a starting pitcher, and it seems as if the righty is still looking to continue as a starter rather than consider a move to the bullpen. As Baggarly puts it, Lincecum becoming a reliever has been “a long-predicted role in his career arc,” especially given his declining velocity and effectiveness in recent years. Only eight of Lincecum’s 278 career regular season appearances have come as a reliever, though that doesn’t count his postseason work in 2012, when his effectiveness out of the pen helped the Giants win the World Series.
Given how dominant Lincecum was in his prime years (winning NL Cy Young Awards in both 2008 and 2009), one can’t blame him for wanting to exhaust all possible options as a starter, though the time may have come to embrace relief pitching if he wants to continue in the majors. The Giants don’t have any more room in their bullpen for a potential reunion with their former ace, Baggarly writes, though one would think Lincecum would draw interest from at least a few teams if he indicated a willingness to work as a reliever.