Jon Heyman went through and projected the contracts that the 50 top free agents will get. Once you've cleaned your monitor after spitting coffee at it -- the Jeff Samardzija contract was the one that got me -- scroll to the bottom.
50. Tim Lincecum, SP
The Giants are hoping to get him back on a non-guaranteed deal. But his doctor is predicting big things. $5M guaranteed (plus incentives).
That is more than I was expecting. The note about his doctor is a reference to something Heyman reported earlier in a Baggarly-quoting article:
Nonetheless, doctors are said to have told Lincecum that he could easily be ready for next spring training if he had the surgery, and they've further suggested that he should be able to return to form. They also are said to believe that his steep velocity decline is related to his current hip woes.
Whereas the last three offseasons of is-Lincecum-broken featured "best shape of his life" hopes and "working with his dad" hopes, this one features "Lincecum's body was broken, and now it's fixed." That is very, very compelling. You are right to be skeptical. You are right to be hopeful.
Are you $5 million hopeful, though? Let's explore the worst-case scenarios of Tim Lincecum, free agent. In order from not-so-awful to completely awful:
Not awful: Lincecum comes back and is awful again, but the rest of the offseason isn't affected
It wouldn't be the worst thing in the world, seeing as there would probably be at least one outstanding start at home, where he gets a warm 'n' fuzzy standing ovation as he walks off the field. One day, those ovations will be gone forever. Take them when they come now.
The worst part about that scenario would be the awful pitching, which would affect the Giants' ability to make it back to the postseason.
Pretty awful: Lincecum signs with another team and is brilliant
What if the hip condition really is the problem? What if he shows up to camp throwing 95 again? Maybe this is something of a unicorn chase, so I apologize for being a part of the problem. I can't get it out of my head, though. What if Lincecum signs with the Royals next year and picks up Cy Young votes.
What if Jason Schmidt comes back and hits six home runs for the Diamondbacks next year?
Fair enough. This scenario might not be likely enough to worry about. At least we could be happy for Lincecum, though. Assuming he signs with one of 28 other teams.
Completely awful: Lincecum signs, isn't good, and the money spent on him affects what the Giants do in the offseason
Back to the article with Heyman's predictions. In those predictions, he had Jordan Zimmermann, talented pitcher, getting $115 million over five years. He also had Jeff Samardzija, who was awful last year, getting $85 million over five years. That's an annual difference of $6 million.
Imagine a scenario in which the Giants choose Samardzija over Zimmermann because of the money they're committing to Tim Lincecum.
I'm not sure how likely that is, really, but it's not completely unrealistic. Instead of a nice story for fans, it becomes something that hurts for the next five seasons. There are a lot of talented pitchers on the market, but there's a lot of pyrite, too. Of all the worst-case scenarios, there's nothing worse than the Giants not taking advantage of a favorable market in which to address a clear need.
This probably means I've answered my own question. How much should the Giants spend on Tim Lincecum? As much as they can without affecting anything else on the roster. This is a raffle ticket. A worthwhile raffle ticket with a payday that would be as huge off the field as it would be on the field. If Tim Lincecum is good for the 2016 Giants, man, what a freaking story. Pun definitely intended.
However, rent is due. Don't buy the raffle ticket if it means ignoring the rent. Or paying less than your landlord is expecting, which landlords don't like. I like raffles! They're a real gosh darn ball of fun. Housing is better, though. Housing is better.
The good news is that Lincecum is a raffle ticket for everyone, too, so this applies to all 30 teams. His price shouldn't be onerous, and that $5 million guesstimate is probably on the high end, unless he impresses teams in some sort of post-injury showcase, which seems unlikely.
If the Giants can sign Lincecum without affecting their pursuit of Zack Greinke, David Price, Zimmermann, et cetera, I'm all for it. I'm anticipating that being the case. On the other hand, is it really a worst-case scenario to watch him succeed somewhere else? At least he'll be successful somewhere. And the Giants would have a full, reguarly funded offseason
I'm quite curious about Lincecum's rebuilt hip. They can rebuild him. They have the technology. But that doesn't mean he should become a "$6 million man", ha ha ha ha ha ha, get it, sure you do, ha ha ha. Hopefully the Giants can come back to Lincecum when the other issues are resolved first, unless they're confident that the offseason is going to be the same with or without him. The only thing they can't do is build an offseason around him.
Which they can't possibly be doing. So we're agreed. Glad we had this chat. Vote in the poll.