Has Tim Lincecum pitched his final game with the San Francisco Giants?
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.
Ricky Nolasco is a solid, though unspectacular pitcher.
Nolasco is a solid pitcher and would fit the mold of a number three starter. He has double-digit win totals in each of his last six seasons.
In 2013, his combined numbers between Miami and LA are quite decent. Nolasco has thrown 198.1 innings, allowed 194 hits, walked 46, while striking out 164.
If the Dodgers really want Nolasco, they can outbid the Giants for his services, but even then, there is no problem with Sabean forcing the Dodgers to spend more money.
Matt Garza has battled injuries over the past two seasons.
Matt Garza began the season with the Chicago Cubs and had a sparkling 6-1 record. Unfortunately, he got injured and shortly after his return, the Cubs shipped him off to the Texas. The Rangers needed to bolster their starting rotation for their playoff run, so Garza was an ideal fit.
Garza has started a combined 24 games between the Cubs and Rangers. He has thrown 155.1 innings, allowed 150 hits, walked 42 and struck out 136.
Garza's season ERA is 3.82, although he has not been as effective in Texas, where he sports a 4.38 ERA. Garza's combined WHIP is a very strong 1.24.
In the past seven years, Garza has never had an ERA over 4.00. He would benefit from the spacious dimensions of AT&T Park, along with the heavy, damp, night air.
Garza made $10.25 million in 2013 and would probably command a salary in the $15-16 million range. Garza will be 30 years of age in November, so he should have a few strong years left.
Look for Garza to get a deal in the $45-50 million range over three years. If the Giants can sign Garza for that price tag, he would be a good addition.
Bronson Arroyo will be 37 years of age when the 2014 season begins.
Bronson Arroyo is a very interesting case. He has had an outstanding year, putting together a record of 14-11, with an ERA of 3.60 and WHIP of 1.135.
In 197.1 innings of work, Arroyo allowed 191 hits and 33 walks, while striking out 122.
Arroyo is not a power pitcher, he relies on excellent location and changing speeds to get opposing hitters out.
The flip side is Arroyo made over $16 million this year and his contract will exceed that on a per year basis. Arroyo will also be 37 years of age when next season begins, so there is always a risk when going after a pitcher with that much mileage on him.
Arroyo is the type of pitcher that can get away with not having overpowering stuff. He does a very good job of keeping opposing hitters off balance.
Arroyo pitches to contact and his style would likely do extremely well at AT&T Park. His numbers are stellar and he pitches the majority of his games in Cincinnati, a hitters park.
Giants' GM Brian Sabean might be willing to ink Arroyo to a two-year deal for $36 million. Anything longer than that or more expensive would be a gamble because of Arroyo's advanced age.
Scott Feldman was traded to the Orioles before the trade deadline.
Scott Feldman has had a very good year. He broke in to the Majors in 2005, but his first full season was 2006. Feldman's ERA of 3.51 is the best of his career. He also sports a WHIP of 1.149.
Feldman has split time this year. He was with the Cubs and doing well. However, Chicago was not in the playoff hunt, so they opted to trade Feldman to the Orioles, prior to the trade deadline.
In 179.1 total innings, Feldman has allowed 151 hits and 55 walks. He has also struck out 131 opposing hitters.
Feldman will be 31 years of age when the 2014 season gets underway. He earned only $6 million this year, which was a bargain for the numbers he put up.
Feldman also grew up in the Bay Area, so pitching in San Francisco would be a tremendous opportunity. An offer of three years and $40 million is in the realm of possibility for acquiring Feldman.
As a number three pitcher in the rotation, Feldman would be an excellent addition to the Giants' rotation.
Ervin Santana would be a great fit for the Giants.
Santana will hit the free-agent market and will be in high demand. Only 30 years of age, Santana has plenty of good years left. He made $13 million in 2013, and will get a hefty raise.
In 2013, Santana has thrown 211 innings, allowed 190 hits and 51 walks, while striking out 161. He has a record of 9-10, with an ERA of 3.24 and WHIP of 1.142.
Santana made $13 million this year and will command more in the open market. The Giants could offer 3 years and $54 million, but they need to be prepared to go higher if necessary.