Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Giants have put a high price tag on the two-time Cy Young award winner because the team would like to hang on to him even though his contract is set to expire at the end of the year. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports says that the club “must listen to any reasonable proposal.”
Considering the Giants are in last place in the NL West and 11 games back of the first-place Dodgers entering Wednesday, it makes sense for San Francisco to take offers on some of the team’s players—especially those who might not be back for next year.
Lincecum hasn’t had the best stuff in 2013 but still needs to stay.
Through 21 starts this season, the right-hander is 5-11 and has a 4.61 ERA. While that’s not very good—and it’s tough to sweeten those numbers—his 3.69 FIP and 3.25 xFIP, per FanGraphs, suggest that he’s been better than his ERA shows. He’s also been better than he was in 2012—albeit that wasn’t tough to do.
Lincecum has been somewhat sharp as of late. The Freak has struck out at least eight batters in four of his last five starts—an eight-run beatdown at the hands of the Cincinnati Reds being the lone exception. That stretch includes his July 13 gem against the San Diego Padres where he tossed a no-hitter.
The right-hander is making $22.25 million this season, and the team interested in landing him would likely have to give up a few good prospects and pay the remaining salary on his contract. But the high price tag is by design and probably not because the Giants think he’s going to push the team to the playoffs in 2013.
If the Giants keep Lincecum for the remainder of the season, they can make him a qualifying offer, which should be around $14 million. That’s considerably less than what he’s making now, and he could be worth it if he bounces back just a little bit next season. But it doesn’t really matter if he accepts it or not.
If Lincecum decides to accept the qualifying offer, then the Giants get him for a year. They'd then hope that he wins at least 10 games and doesn’t allow more than 4.5 runs each time he takes the mound. But if Lincecum tests the market, then San Francisco gets a good pick in the 2014 MLB First-Year Player draft.
This is a can’t-lose situation for the reigning World Champions.
There may be a team out there so desperate for a starting pitcher that it’s willing to give up a ton to acquire Lincecum. If there isn’t, then that’s completely fine. San Francisco will see what happens after the season comes to a close in terms of whether Lincecum accepts or denies the team's potential qualifying offer and will go from there.
It’s a shame that the Giants won’t be able to defend their title, but the team is still in good shape going forward. They’re either going to get some good prospects and have extra money heading into the offseason, a good pick in next year’s draft or a pitcher who has a pair of Cy Young awards on his resume at a significant discount.
All statistics in this article were obtained via FanGraphs unless otherwise noted and are current through July 29. All injury information was obtained via Baseball Prospectus and all contract information was obtained via Cot’s Contracts.