The headline on MLB Trade Rumors:
Giants Could Re-Sign Lincecum
The tweets that inspired the headline:
(The Giants) have not given up on Lincecum long-term. I'm told prospect of re-signing Lince as a FA next year played into some budgetary decisions this year on long-term deals for other players.
And my guess at the hidden meaning:
The Giants are going to spend a lot of money on a pitcher next year, and they're hoping it's Lincecum
Lincecum is a San Francisco sports icon, a player on a short list with names like Montana, Young, Thurmond, Marichal, McCovey, and Velez. If Lincecum turns it around, the Giants probably won't mess around in the free-agent market.
But if he doesn't turn it around, I'd wager the "budgetary decisions" up there have more to do with a philosophy than a single player. The Giants are used to having a gaggle of good pitchers, and they don't want to go back to the days of counting on Matt Morris. Remember when they brought Russ Ortiz back? That wasn't that long ago, really. Lincecum's rookie year, to be precise. You can't futz around for back-end starters after a taste of the good life.
Who's available on the free-agent market next offseason? Why, who isn't on the market?!? Let's see ... huh, that guy's terrible ... that guy's okay ... that guy's terrible ... well, then. There are couple of interesting options, with guys who will get paid like aces even if they aren't (Matt Garza, Josh Johnson), guys who might be good options at the ends of their careers (Tim Hudson, Roy Halladay, Johan Santana), and guys like Bruce Chen (Bruce Chen). It doesn't look like there's a pitcher that teams are going to make a $100 million mistake on, depending on what you think of Adam Wainwright.
We're getting ahead of ourselves, though. There's no sense rosterbating about 2014 when there's still a 2013 season to play. And there's no sense writing Tim Lincecum off when he's about to win his third Cy Young. DAMN STRAIGHT. I guess the takeaway from the whispers Schulman heard are this:
1. The Giants didn't want to spend a lot on a free agent this offseason because they wanted to save money for a pitcher next offseason
2. They hope that pitcher is Tim Lincecum
3. Most of us do, too
A long-term deal for Lincecum would scare me if he won another Cy Young; it would scare me if he did just okay this year, and he was paid accordingly. There isn't a reasonable contract in the world that would make me feel comfortable with Lincecum long-term.
The only thing that would make me more uncomfortable would be not having Lincecum long term. That's the conundrum, alright. At least the Giants are supposedly prepared for either case.