The headline for the both the source material (Andrew Baggarly at CSN Bay Area) and at the MLB Trade Rumors post linking back to Baggarly are about Tim Lincecum testing the free-agent market. That's news. But I don't think it's surprising news, really. It takes a real weirdo to not want to test the market.
Right. Pence got a fair deal from the Giants, so it's not like he left tens of millions on the table, but most players and agents want to hit the open market, even if they've quietly made up their mind that they're staying. It could be a million-dollar difference. I would eat Marvin Benard's helmet, piece by filthy piece, for a million dollars.
So, yes, Tim Lincecum is going to solicit offers from other teams. Most pending free agents do. It's just good business sense.
But the lede for me was in this passage:
The Giants have presented a two-year structure to Lincecum but talks haven’t progressed; assuming nothing gets done before the end of the World Series, the Giants plans to make him a qualifying offer (one year, almost $14 million) that would set them up to receive draft-pick compensation if he signs elsewhere.
There you go: a two-year structure. That doesn't mean the Giants won't go to three years if pushed, but before Lincecum hit the open market, the Giants were willing to commit to two years. If Lincecum came back at two years, many millions, I'd be okay with that. I don't have a lot of confidence in his ability to develop the command he needs to succeed with lower velocity, but it's impossible to ignore the strikeout ability that he's still showing.
Lincecum is window shopping. The windows are shopping for Lincecum. That doesn't mean he's gone, and that doesn't mean that he's less likely to stay than we thought. The bigger news to me is that the Giants offered two years in an attempt to prevent him from hitting the open market. That says something. Kind of.