Once considered to be the best starting pitcher in all of Major League Baseball, the past two seasons haven't been kind to Tim Lincecum.
UPDATE: Friday, Oct. 25, at 8:11 p.m. ET
From CSN Bay Area's Andrew Baggarly:
Lincecum said he thought about playing for Mariners and believes that is an opportunity he'd like to explore, but later in his career.— Andrew Baggarly (@CSNBaggs) October 26, 2013
---End of update---
UPDATE: Friday, Oct. 25, at 7:43 p.m. ET
From San Francisco Chronicle reporter Henry Schulman:
The Lincecum-#sfgiants deal is finalized.— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) October 25, 2013
---End of update---
But that didn't stop the San Francisco Giants from signing "The Freak" to a two-year contract extension:
Tim Lincecum and the #SFGiants have agreed to terms on a two year deal covering the 2014-15 seasons, pending a physical.— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) October 22, 2013
CBS Sports' Jon Heyman provides some further details about the contract:
Tim Lincecum deal is believed to be for $35M over 2 years— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) October 22, 2013
Lincecum receives full no trade clause— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) October 22, 2013
Alex Pavlovic of the Mercury News added:
Confirmed Lincecum's deal is two years, $35 million, as @JonHeymanCBS reported. Qualifying offer would have been around $14 million.— Alex Pavlovic (@AlexPavlovic) October 22, 2013
The 29-year-old is coming off a 2013 campaign in which he posted a 10-14 record with a 4.37 ERA and 1.32 WHIP in 197.2 innings, striking out 193 batters.
Lincecum had one of the most dominant four-year runs in recent memory from 2008 through 2011, as he was named to the All-Star team in each of those seasons and won the National League Cy Young Award in both 2008 and 2009.
Those Cy Young seasons were particularly impressive, as Lincecum went a combined 33-12 with an ERA just over 2.50. He also struck out more than 260 batters in each of those seasons, a number which isn't seen very often these days.
Though Lincecum wasn't quite as unhittable in the following two years, he was still the Giants' ace, and he played a huge role in the team's success.
Lincecum struggled at times during the 2010 season. He ended the year with a 3.43 ERA, but he was lights out during the playoffs. With a 4-1 record and 43 strikeouts in five starts, he helped the Giants win their first World Series as an organization since 1954, and their first ever since moving out West.
"The Franchise" carried that momentum into the following season, when he lowered his ERA to 2.74 and seemed to be back on top of his game. Ever since the 2011 season, though, Lincecum has struggled mightily with his consistency. He was especially bad in 2012, when he went 10-15 with a 5.18 ERA during the regular season. With that said, he found his groove once again in the playoffs.
Manager Bruce Bochy dropped Lincecum from the starting rotation, but he was excellent out of the bullpen. He pitched 4.2 innings of scoreless relief in the World Series against the Detroit Tigers as the Giants won their second World Series in three years.
Lincecum was inserted back into the starting rotation this year, but he resembled the Lincecum fans saw during the 2012 regular season more so than the 2012 playoff version. That comes with one significant exception, as Lincecum hurled his first career no-hitter on July 13 against the San Diego Padres. He walked four batters and struck out 13 on 148 pitches in a start that seemed to signal that he was officially back.
Despite that, Lincecum did not have his finest year, and the Giants finished 16 games out of first place in the National League West.
With that said, Lincecum is definitely a guy who is worth gambling on. He showed in the playoffs how dominant he can be, and he has shown many times in the past that he is capable of anchoring a pitching staff.
There will now be a great deal of intrigue regarding how Lincecum will be used. He could continue to start, but as he showed during the playoffs last year, he can also be a major weapon out of the bullpen.
Whatever the case, the Giants believe in Lincecum, and are gambling on his return to form from earlier in the decade.
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