Around two thirds of the league reportedly had at least one scout on hand at Tim Lincecum’s showcase last week, and SB Nation’s Grant Brisbee reports that one club came away with a favorable enough impression to offer Lincecum a guaranteed, Major League deal. That team is not the Giants, Brisbee adds, noting that the presence of a big league contract offer for Lincecum likely eliminates the chances of a reunion with his original team.
Among the teams that were reported to be in attendance at Lincecum’s showcase (in addition to the Giants) were the Rangers, Phillies, Dodgers, Twins, Tigers, Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox, Brewers, Padres, Braves, Mariners and Cardinals. The Mets reportedly did not attend. Texas and San Francisco were said to be impressed by Lincecum’s showing, via Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area and Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. (The Rangers have been stockpiling affordable pitching depth.) The Yankees reportedly thought he looked “fine,” per NJ Advance Media’s Brendan Kuty.
An NL scout told the Seattle Times’ Ryan Divish that Lincecum’s breaking ball had a better shape than in recent years but questioned whether he had a true out pitch. Lincecum’s fastball velocity was widely reported be sitting in the 90-92 mph range, which would be a marked improvement from the 87 mph he averaged with his fastball in an ill-fated run with the Angels during his 2016 comeback bid.
At this point, it’s been more than a half decade since Lincecum was an above-average big league contributor, when he logged a pristine 2.74 ERA in more than 200 innings for the 2011 Giants. Since that time, he’s mustered just a 4.94 ERA in 654 Major League frames, battling through injuries, diminished velocity and diminished control as his home-run rate spiked.
Given those struggles and his absence from baseball entirely in 2017, it’s a bit surprising that someone would offer a 40-man roster spot and the promise of a guaranteed salary. The now-33-year-old certainly isn’t devoid of any upside, especially relative to the cost of acquisition, but a return as an upper-echelon pitcher is a decisive long shot.
Lincecum does have some name value with fans, though, and perhaps he could ultimately come back as a mid-rotation piece or an interesting reliever if he can sustain the low-90s velocity he reportedly displayed at last week’s workout. (He had some success pitching with similar velocity earlier this decade.) Any big league deal he signs would presumably contain a minimal guarantee and significant incentives based on his number of appearances (either games started or relief appearances, dependent on his role) and innings totals.