Hector Sanchez was claimed on waivers by the Padres on Wednesday. You might think of this as unremarkable news about an old friend. Except he was the personal catcher for one Tim Lincecum. Connect the dots, man. CONNECT THE DOTS.
The dots are apparently messing with us. According to Ken Rosenthal, the Padres are out, as are the Mariners.
I would assume the Mariners aren't interested because they're satisfied with their current staff, whereas the Padres news could be coming from either side. They might not see a reason to mess with him, or Lincecum might not see a reason to mess with the Padres. It's possible that Lincecum was very clear that he wouldn't want to be traded in July, which is one of the few reasons the Padres should be messing with a short-term raffle ticket like him in the first place.
Either way, he isn't going to either one of the more likely destinations (in terms of park and location). So where is he going?
You figured the Giants would still be interested, even after Matt Cain's vintage outing. Even if you're less than sanguine about Lincecum's current abilities, you have to at least consider the idea that he's an improvement over Albert Suarez in the long relief spot. Which means it wouldn't be outlandish for the Giants to pitch the opportunity in a job ad that reads ....
LONG RELIEF (Class I) - $29,044/hr., prev. experience helpful but not required. Duties include pitching blowouts and at the very end of extra-inning games. STRONG POSSIBILITY FOR ADVANCEMENT. Former long relievers in our organization have made it into the rotation in each of the last three seasons
That sounds like a sweet gig! And, yes, Chad Gaudin, Yusmeiro Petit, and Chris Heston all made 10 starts or more after starting out in the bullpen, so there's room to grow with the company.
But the Angels can offer a starting gig now, now, now. The White Sox can, too, to a lesser extent. Both teams have less than desirable features, though. The Angels are seven games under .500 and are bleeding from an open wound. Their park would be very attractive to a starting pitcher looking to improve his marketability, but the situation is a downer.
The White Sox are rolling, on the other hand. They're one of the best and most surprising teams in the American League. They also pitch in a homer-happy haven, and whatever fun-timey contending vibes Lincecum gets at U.S. Cellular could cost him millions on the open market, even when it comes to smart teams that know how to adjust for park.
If only there were a mix of both. Say, a contending team that plays in a pitcher's park. Some sort of best-case scenario where he gets the best of all worlds, with an adoring fan base and the kind of comfort you just can't buy. But we don't live in fantasy land. In the real world, there's no way for a team like that to just magically exist, so Lincecum will have to pick wisely.
I'll upgrade the odds of Lincecum signing to 64 percent. The Padres made a lot of sense, but they're apparently out. I'm pretty sure the Giants aren't willing to bounce Peavy from the rotation right away -- at least, not as an ironclad guarantee to Lincecum before agreeing on a contract -- but there's some logic to bringing someone who hasn't pitched in a year along slowly. That's logic on the Giants' side, but I'm sure Lincecum can see it, too.
Back in the spring, the Giants were clearly one of the unlikeliest teams to sign Lincecum, enough so that Doug ranked his possible destinations. Pretty sure we're on the other side of that, now. The Giants are probably the likeliest team, at this point.
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