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January 23, 2017

Rumor Roundup

Don't Call Him the Comeback Kid

by Ashley Varela


Lincecum still hunting for opportunity

Tim Lincecum really wants to play baseball, probably more than most people want to do most things. His agent, Rick Thurman, told Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News that Lincecum is still preparing for the upcoming season, despite not having a) a contract or b) any publicized interest from a major-league team.

Lincecum doesn’t just want to stage a comeback, however. If he did, he might be more inclined to seek out a contract overseas, where he could refine his mechanics before returning to a more rigorous level of competition. According to Thurman, the only option the 32-year-old is willing to consider is a role on a major-league roster. That’ll be difficult to come by, and not just because teams are 20 days out from the start of spring training. Lincecum underwent double hip surgery in 2015 and labored through a disastrous nine-game stint with the Angels in 2016.

If the right-hander’s 6.68 DRA and -0.6 WARP were any indication last year, there’s not much left in Lincecum’s tank. Still, Baggarly writes, that doesn’t necessarily mean teams will pass on him in 2017. While the Angels and Giants don’t appear to have the room or desire to re-sign the veteran righty, Lincecum could still snag a minor-league contract and compete for a rotation spot in spring training–or, more likely, be persuaded to take on a bullpen role instead. Right now, the only thing standing between Big Time Timmy Jim and retirement is a love for baseball (okay, that and the lack of a contract offer) ... and it’s hard to fault anyone for that.

Daniels opens extension talks with Darvish

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels has reportedly initiated contract extension talks with Yu Darvish, says MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan, who notes that the club has a habit of getting serious about such matters during spring training. Darvish has one more year on his six-year, $56 million contract with the Rangers and is set to enter free agency after the 2017 season, barring successful negotiations with the team.

Neither side appears to be in a rush to lock down an extension just yet. Like most general managers, Daniels is still in the throes of roster assembly, while Darvish is more focused on finding repeat success off the mound in 2017. It’s been two years since the 30-year-old underwent Tommy John surgery, and his 2.56 DRA, 2.8 BB/9 and 11.8 K/9 solidified an impressive comeback effort during the 2016 season. From Darvish’s comments, further health complications don’t appear to be on the horizon, but whether he wants to test free agency at the end of the year remains to be seen. Sullivan adds that the two sides have had several conversations about a deal so far, but nothing approaching serious negotiations.

Ross won’t start until May or June

The Rangers signed Tyson Ross to a team-friendly one-year, $6 million deal last week, but they might have to wait until May to use him. Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram quoted an anonymous team official who estimates Ross’ debut around May or June, depending on how quickly he can work his way back to full strength after undergoing surgery to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome last year.

General manager Jon Daniels didn’t confirm the report, but added that the club’s ultimate goal was to put Ross in a position to perform during the stretch run. Ross reportedly signed with the Rangers because of their experience with thoracic outlet syndrome, and expects to take things slowly while he works his way up to a midseason start. Pushing back that start date could help the 29-year-old last well into the postseason, should the Rangers find themselves in the playoff hunt for a third consecutive season. More importantly, easing into a full workload should give him the best chance of regaining his former 3.08 DRA, 4.8 WARP glory.

Without Ross, Wilson reports the club will select a fifth starter during spring training. Right-hander A.J. Griffin is presumed to have the edge behind Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels, Martin Perez, and Andrew Cashner, but could face competition from fellow righties Nick Martinez, Chi Chi Gonzalez, Mike Hauschild, Dillon Gee and Tyler Wagner as well.

Ashley Varela is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Ashley's other articles. You can contact Ashley by clicking here

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