Multiple teams, including the Detroit Tigers, are interested in acquiring Tim Lincecum’s services as a reliever, according to Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports.
If you’re surprised, in addition to last week’s no-hitter, I’d like to point your attention to Lincecum’s performance as a reliever in last year’s post season. As Wendy Thurm points out, in just over 17-innings worth of work, Lincecum allowed just nine hits, four walks, and five earned runs while striking out 20. Though these aren’t eye-popping numbers, they were a welcome relief to the eye-gouging we had been partaking in that season. Plus, Lincecum was masterful in truly high leverage situations — Game 3 of the World Series, in particular.
The question remains, however, whether the Giants would be willing to deal Lincecum, given that he seems to have reclaimed some of his old form (a topic discussed by Thurm and Joey McMurry on our podcast). As noted by Chris Cwik of Fangraphs, Lincecum seems to have refound his change-up. Writes Cwik:
Lincecum has seen the pitch jump back to previous levels. As far as the change-up is concerned, Lincecum’s velocity is back (the same can’t be said about his fastball). Perhaps more importantly, Lincecum has rediscovered his feel for the pitch. He’s been able to throw it for strikes with more consistency, nearly matching his career-best rate in ball percentage. And now that he’s locating the pitch again, it’s become impossible to hit.
The Freak’s resurgence has been so pronounced that Cwik predicts Lincecum could return to above-average form, though Cwik concedes that Lincecum’s best days are behind him.
This seeming reclamation of Lincecum’s career could also hasten the Giants’ willingness to trade him, but that trade would be unlikely if teams are valuing him as a reliever. Lincecum the starter has a higher return than Lincecum the reliever. If the Giants can tout him as the former, then the bounty fetched could motivate them to make a deal.
Ultimately, however, Lincecum’s trade value might be divorced from his post All-Star Game performance. That is, Lincecum’s value might be determined by how much of his salary the Giants are willing to cover, as well as by what the Cubs are able to get in return for Matt Garza.
Of course, all of this is contingent upon the Giants falling out of playoff contention and deciding to part ways with a player who has become an icon of the San Francisco sport’s landscape. Given their performance as of late, the Giants face a tough road to the playoffs. As for parting ways with Lincecum, well, that’s seems equally as tough — though for different reasons. Lincecum just embodies the city of San Francisco in ways that most athletes here do not. Because of that, I simply can’t imagine him in another jersey, representing another team. But, then again, I never thought I’d see Joe Montana in a Kansas City Chiefs jersey either. So, I guess weirder things have happened — last Saturday is a testament to that.