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The Seattle Mariners do not have the privilege of participating in the 2013 postseason, so it is time to start speculating on free agents. Obviously there will be a lot of talk and rumors that do not come to fruition, but speculation is part of sports.
Should Tim Lincecum be on the team’s radar?
There is a lot about Lincecum that makes sense. Lincecum is a local, having attended Liberty High School in Renton. He then had a successful career at the University of Washington. The Mariners would represent a homecoming for “The Freak,” assuming he wants to come home.
It would make a nice story but there are problems with this type of transaction. First all, Lincecum is 29 years old, which means that he will be looking for a sizeable contract. It would not be shocking if Lincecum asked for a contract in the range of five to seven years.
Do you give a long deal to a guy that went 10-14 with a 4.37 ERA in 2013? Don’t forget, he went 10-15 with a 5.18 ERA the year before. Will Lincecum ever recover his 2008 form when he went 18-5 with 2.62 ERA? That seems unlikely.
Ironically, the Mariners pursued Lincecum’s teammate Barry Zito when he came up for a contract seven years ago. Zito eventually signed a seven-year, $126 million contract with the San Francisco Giants. That resulted in a 63-80 record, with a 4.62 ERA. Seattle should remember that contract and result if they decide to open negotiations with Lincecum.
Not to mention that the Giants will probably extend Lincecum a qualifying offer, which means that the Mariners would also have to surrender a draft pick if they chased the veteran pitcher. That is not a pleasant prospect.
The other question has to do with needs. It would be nice to add a veteran pitcher with some past success. Lincecum did throw a no-hitter in 2013 and could be a great addition to the staff. However, is this the highest priority?
One assumes that the Mariners will only have so much money to spend in the offseason. The team is already looking at a rotation that could include Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, Taijuan Walker and James Paxton. Do the Mariners really need an expensive arm? Seattle has the making of a great rotation, even without Danny Hultzen.
How about an expensive bat instead?
Lincecum will appear on a lot of rumor lists and because of his connection to the Pacific Northwest, the Mariners will be mentioned as a potential landing spot. However, when you step back and think about what it would take to land Lincecum, it does not make a lot of sense.
If the Mariners really want to bring a local player back home, there are much cheaper solutions.