Tim Lincecum Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz on Tigers and More Interested in Star
San Francisco Giants star Tim Lincecum is coming off a crowning achievement of his career: a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres. Following the memorable start and amid an up-and-down first half, his name has started to pop up in trade talk.
UPDATE: Monday, July 29, by Brandon Galvin
FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal has the latest on Tim Lincecum:
Ideally, the Giants would like to keep three of their potential free agents — right fielder Hunter Pence, right-hander Tim Lincecum and left-handed reliever Javier Lopez. But at this point, club officials feel they must listen to any reasonable proposal, sources say...
... Lincecum, who has struck out 10 or more in three of his past four starts, including a no-hitter, would be a more complicated transaction. He is highly popular in San Francisco and owed nearly $8 million of his $22 million salary.
CBS' Jon Heyman has the latest on Lincecum:
But several baseball executives still see a trade of Lincecum and simultaneous switch of jobs from starter to reliever as unlikely.
"Far-fetched," one National League executive called the scenario whereby Lincecum is traded to a team that immediately turns him from starter to closer.
Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports reports multiple teams, including the championship contending Detroit Tigers, are interested in the two-time Cy Young Award winner. But the kicker is they view him as a reliever for the stretch run.
Now comes the fun part: Can the Giants really trade Lincecum now?
Multiple sources told me recently that some teams — the Tigers are one — have interest in acquiring Lincecum as a reliever for the stretch drive. Of course, that presumes that the Giants will become sellers at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. That’s far from certain, even with a 43-50 record.
Lincecum had a brutal May. He posted a 6.37 ERA in six starts, mostly due to an opponents' batting average of nearly .300. Aside from that, however, his ERA has been below 4.00 in every month, including a vintage 2.53 mark so far in July.
So with "The Freak" showing signs of turning the corner and the Giants still within striking distance of a playoff spot in the National League, trading him is a risky option. And it's unclear how the former ace would welcome a trip to the bullpen after enduring one last year.
There are two ways to view a potential move. On the positive side, his high strikeout rate and big-game experience would bode well for a contender hoping to make a run deep into October. He could always move back into the rotation in case of injury, as well.
But the biggest negative is control, or lack thereof. He's walked an average of 3.5 batters per nine innings throughout his career. His walk rate in 2013 has remained relatively consistent with that number despite the recent surge (3.7).
The one thing teams can't afford in close games down the stretch or in the playoffs is a pitcher who's going to create a jam by walking a couple hitters in a row.
Furthermore, Lincecum showed against the Padres that he still possesses plenty of value as a starter. And a pitcher who can go six or seven strong innings is more valuable than one who gets a few outs in the eighth.
Luckily, both the Giants and any teams interested in the right-hander have a couple more weeks to assess the situation. San Francisco can see if it makes up any ground in the playoff race, and other teams can decide if he's worth seriously pursuing, and in what role.
Since there are so many moving parts, including the Giants' hopes and potentially getting Lincecum to accept a role change after a move, it could take some time before everything gets sorted out. Not to mention the no-hitter will probably cause San Francisco to proceed with caution.
A couple years ago it would have been a shock to hear the Giants might be looking to trade him. A lot has changed since then, however, leaving the door open for a move before the deadline.
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