With the news that impending free agent Tim Lincecum was re-signed by the San Francisco Giants last night, another possible target for teams with starting pitching needs was taken off the market. It's debatable if the Blue Jays would have had any interest in the Washington state native who turned 29 earlier this year. The terms of his contract with the Giants are reported to be two years worth a total of $35 million with a full no-trade clause. The initial opinions of this contract seem to be that it is pretty bad, especially with the no-trade clause making him immovable if he continues to struggle.
Rob Neyer took a quick look at Lincecum last night, reaching the conclusion that San Francisco might be betting that Lincecum's advanced stats point to a brighter future than what the past two years have yielded. To summarize, although Lincecum's 2012 ERA was 5.18 and this year's was an only slightly better 4.37, there might still be hope as his FIP in the last two year's has been 4.18 and 3.74 respectively. His xFIP is even more telling as it has been 3.82 and 3.56 in the past two seasons, which seems to point to a lot of bad luck for Lincecum. The problem is that "The Freak" has lost bucket loads of velocity and has started to get hit harder and harder each year. His 2011 LD% was 19.1% and in 2013 it was 23.1%, while his GB% has decreased.
There still is some optimism for Giants fans as Lincecum's poor past two seasons have come with HR/FB rates of 14.6% and 12.1%, which is where the low xFIP numbers come from. Pitching in AT&T Park should help his HR/FB as it's considered to be a pitcher's friendly park that doesn't yield a lot of home runs meaning he might have had a lot of bad luck these past two seasons. The short porch in right field might have an effect, but Lincecum has had reverse splits for the past two years, so he isn't giving up a bunch of hits to left-handed hitters.
Now that we've looked at Lincecum's history, it's time to think about what you would have wanted the Blue Jays to pay him if he hit the open market this year. You would have assumed that he would have at least received a qualifying offer from the Giants before leaving, so a lost second round draft pick should also be considered. I don't think Alex Anthopoulos would offer Lincecum an average annual value that close to $17.5 million and I don't think many people would want him to. If a win is worth about $6-$7 million next year, Lincecum would have to amass about 2.5-3 wins per year for his contract to be worth it to San Francisco. It should be noted that he easily did this from 2008-2011, so it's not like it's out of the question that Lincecum could return to form and make this deal a bargain for Brian Sabean and the Giants.
Early 2014 projections have Lincecum at about 2 WAR next season and that seems realistic enough meaning an annual value around $14 million would be a fair deal for both parties. As we know, free agent deals aren't always fair and massive television deals are putting some extra money in certain teams' pockets, which makes the open market anything but balanced. That being said, I would have been fine with Lincecum coming to Toronto for two years and $29 million, which would carry an average annual value of $14.5 million. If Lincecum wanted a longer term deal, then something along the lines of five years $65 million would appear to be a fair deal in my eyes. A full no-trade clause would have been a horrible idea for the Blue Jays and I'm glad it wasn't Toronto that agreed to this contract.
Now that I've had my say, I'd like to hear what everyone else would have liked to see Tim Lincecum come to Toronto for. I expect the proposed contracts to vary greatly so it'll be interesting to see everyone's reasoning.