Tim Lincecum's long-awaited "showcase" Thursday in Scottsdale, Arizona, will be attended by an estimated 20 teams, including the San Francisco Giants, the two-time Cy Young Award winner's employer for his entire nine-year career.
Lincecum underwent surgery on his left hip last September to repair a torn labrum and shave down a bone buildup. He's reportedly throwing 90-91 mph without any of the pain or impingement that shut down his 2015 season in June.
Aside from his health, there's this little issue: Lincecum hasn't been good since 2011. During the past four seasons, he went 39-42 with a 4.68 ERA, reasonable numbers perhaps for a back-end rotation starter. But those numbers came on good teams in a good pitcher's park, and despite winning two World Series in that span, he wasn't really helping the Giants all that much. Remember, other than one start in 2012, he was bumped to the bullpen both postseasons. At AT&T Park those four seasons, he posted a 3.94 ERA; on the road, he posted a 5.61 ERA. His cumulative WAR was minus-2.7. If I'm a team in a good hitter's park, I'd be extremely wary of signing him.
With that mind, which teams might be a fit? Some possibilities:
1. San Francisco Giants: The obvious favorite for several reasons. Most notably, Bruce Bochy just said the other day that the Giants are interested. "Yeah, that's fair to say," said Bochy, although he indicated he sees Lincecum as a reliever. "We know Timmy. The fact is, that's a role he could fit. I don't know his level of interest in having a role like that. It doesn't rule out any other role because of injuries." The Giants are also notoriously loyal to their players. And they need pitching help, both in the bullpen and in the rotation, where Jake Peavy sports a 9.00 ERA and Matt Cain a 7.84 ERA after getting pounded again Thursday night. Bochy indicated he's not going to give up on those guys after a month, but Lincecum could pitch out of the pen for a month (or build up innings in Triple-A) as the Giants punt on one of those two starters.
2. Chicago White Sox: The White Sox just released John Danks and gave Erik Johnson the first shot to replace him in Thursday's game against Boston. Depending on Johnson's performance, the White Sox might be looking for a fifth starter. The Cell isn't a great fit for Lincecum, however, as it's one of the best home run parks in the majors.
3. Seattle Mariners: Lincecum is from the Seattle suburbs and pitched at the University of Washington. The Mariners don't have an opening in the rotation right now, but remember that the Dodgers backed out after a deal with Hisashi Iwakuma over concerns about his medicals, so who knows if he can make it through 30 starts? Plus, the M's only reasonable rotation depth in Triple-A right now is James Paxton, who has to be viewed as a big unknown after struggling in spring training (and he has had a multitude of injuries over the years). The bullpen has also been hit by injuries, so Lincecum could be a multi-inning reliever until a starter is needed.
4. Los Angeles Angels: Matt Shoemaker has already been sent down to the minors, Jered Weaver is throwing 80 mph fastballs and has a 5.40 ERA, and Andrew Heaney is currently on the DL with a forearm strain and ace Garrett Richards appears headed for Tommy John surgery. The Angels need help and they play in a good pitcher's park.
5. Miami Marlins. A good place to potentially rebuild value; Marlins Park is a good pitcher's park and Lincecum would often get to face the weak offenses of the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies. Tom Koehler has a 7.25 ERA while averaging less than five innings per start, Jarred Cosart was sent down with major control issues and there's no depth available in the minors.
Obviously, if 20 teams are interested, Lincecum could land just about anywhere, especially if he's willing to pitch in relief. The Baltimore Orioles are a possibility, although he seems like a bad fit in that park. The Houston Astros aren't scared away by starters who don't throw hard. The Los Angeles Dodgers? I don't know -- it wouldn't look right seeing Lincecum in a Dodgers uniform. Although another Giants great did end up there.