Tim Lincecum is one of those special baseball players that captures the hearts of the fans in his home city. He is a beloved treasure for the Giants and their fans and his accomplishments have been amazing.
Lincecum broke in with the Giants in 2007 and has been a fan favorite ever since. He is the only pitcher in the history of the game to win back-to-back Cy Young Awards in his first two full seasons.
A four-time All Star, Lincecum has made at least 32 starts in each of the past six seasons. Lincecum has led the league in strikeouts on three separate occasions and even threw a no-hitter earlier this year.
Unfortunately, Lincecum has struggled over the past two seasons, as his velocity has decreased. He is not the same power pitcher he was earlier in his career.
Lincecum has tried to reinvent himself focusing more on command and pitching, as opposed to just throwing. Last year was a disaster for Lincecum, as he finished the season with an ERA of 5.18 and WHIP of 1.468. His record was a dismal 10-15, as he led the league in losses.
Lincecum has pitched better this year, but his margin of error is much smaller than in his early years. In 197.2 innings, Lincecum allowed 184 hits, while walking 76 and striking out 193. His ERA was 4.37 to go along with a WHIP of 1.32.
Lincecum finished the season with a record of 10-14, but was much better in the second half of the season.
Now at the end of his contract, Lincecum is set to hit the free-agent market. The Giants want him back, but at the right price. Lincecum made over $22 million in 2013 and the Giants' offer will be well below that on an annual basis.
With free agents Hunter Pence and Javier Lopez also high on the Giants' priority list, one must wonder if Lincecum has pitched his final game in the orange and black.
The Giants' top priority appears to be Pence, as he was their most productive hitter in the 2013 season. He will not come cheap, however. That could impact the Giants' willingness to spend big on Lincecum.
Ideally, the Giants would like to keep Lincecum on something like a two-year deal in the $28-30 million range. A longer term contract, or one for a lot more money, seems unlikely in San Francisco.
The Giants' biggest competition may come from the Seattle Mariners. Lincecum is from the Seattle area, so a return to that area might be a strong possibility.
The Giants should be in a better position to win than Seattle, but if Seattle blows the doors off with a huge offer, Lincecum might be inclined to go.
Giants' GM Brian Sabean must at least explore the options that are available to replace Lincecum, should he opt to leave. Let's look at five pitchers who could fill that void.
All stats are courtesy of baseball-reference.com.