Over the past month, San Francisco Giants’ starting pitcher Tim Lincecum has been linked to trade rumors involving the Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox as a possible reliever.
Lincecum just turned 29 years old, is a four-time All-Star, two-time Cy Young Award winner, two-time World Series champion and has recently thrown a no-hitter.
On the flip side, he is 15-25 in his past two seasons with an ERA hovering around 5.00. With the Giants trailing the NL West’s leading Los Angeles Dodgers, should the Giants trade Lincecum before the July 31st trade deadline?
Size may not matter, but how about speed?
The days of Lincecum throwing 95 mph fastballs are behind him. He has a hard time hitting 90 mph with control. If Lincecum is going to reincarnate himself into his old All-Star/Cy Young self, he must rely on his other pitches.
Lincecum has relied on his nasty changeup, but he needs to develop another pitch if he can’t blow batters away with his fastball. Lincecum’s pitches have always had great movement. If he can master the cutter or curveball, he can become an ace again down the road.
Lincecum, a closer?
The guy has been a starter his entire career. If Lincecum can’t even be a reputable fifth starter in the rotation, then I’d consider throwing Lincecum in the bullpen/closer position.
For the sake of argument, if Lincecum made the switch as closer, it could work. If endurance is the issue (it has been mentioned in the past, but after 148 pitches and a no-hitter, endurance may not be an issue anymore), then a switch to the bullpen can help Lincecum.
He has the stuff to go hard for an inning in relief, and the lefty/righty matchups should not be a problem for him.
Trade him now, before it’s too late…
From a baseball operations standpoint, it makes sense to trade Lincecum now.
Regardless of what his stock is now, his contract ends at the end of the season. If he stays until the end of the season, the Giants will, presumably, make a $13.3 million qualifying offer and get a compensatory draft pick, if Lincecum signs with another team.
However, the Giants can get better value in terms of prospects if they trade him now.
Lincecum has meant so much to the Giants’ franchise and the city of San Francisco. It will be different without him, but baseball is a business as much as it is a sport, and sometimes “business decisions” must be made to improve the team down the road.