Tim Lincecum wants to be "perfect" for potential showcase
Opening Day is only a few days away, and one notable player who more than likely won’t be ready is free agent pitcher Tim Lincecum. The former Giant, former All-Star, former Cy Young winner, etc., is still working out on his own, and rumors of his big impending showcase have thus far been greatly exaggerated.
Despite the fact that this showcase has been pushed back on multiple occasions, there are still plenty of teams who have shown interest in at least looking at the 31-year-old right-hander, who’s coming off hip surgery. The Padres—who last year signed Josh Johnson and Brandon Morrow, similarly famous names who would bring zero certainty at this stage of their careers—appear to be showing the most interest, going back as far January. Considering that San Diego has had a front-row seat to some of Lincecum’s finest moments as Giant, including a pair of no-hitters, maybe the pursuit makes extra sense.
So, why has Lincecum’s showcase been pushed back so far, to the point that he surely won’t be ready for the beginning of the season? Apparently Lincecum wants to be “perfect” for the showcase. While reports of The Freak throwing 90 mph off of a flat surface are a bit encouraging, it’s still a bit… unconvincing to see him push his showcase back as far as he has. Still, with reportedly 20-plus teams showing interest, it could still be only a matter of time before Lincecum latches on with a team—even if the timing is very weird.
James Loney has been informed that the Rays won’t be keeping him
First baseman James Loney is coming off of a pretty rough 2015 season—one that saw him hit .280/.322/.357 with four home runs and a TAv of .243 over 104 appearances. He eventually finished the year with a WARP of -0.8, so congratulations all of you for your superior 2015 performance. With the Rays bringing on Logan Morrison and Steve Pearce for first base duties and Corey Dickerson for the DH role, it was clear that Loney had a battle on his hands to keep playing time—and, maybe, a roster spot.
As it turns out, Loney will be on the outside looking in, as the team has already informed him he will not be on the bus to Opening Day. He hasn’t been officially cut yet, but the team has informed him that he’ll either be traded or released. Loney will be owed $8 million this season. Few teams have much financially flexibility this late in spring training, so a release looks likely.
In case James Loney does hit the free agent market, Tampa Bay Times writer Marc Topkin is reporting that a handful of teams have some interest in the soon-to-be 32-year-old first baseman—namely the Astros, Pirates, Rockies, and White Sox. With the clear exception of Jose Abreu and the White Sox, all of those teams have needs at first base, and while Loney wouldn’t serve as a cure-all, he could provide depth. Plus, Loney is keeping a positive mindset about the situation, so there’s that.
Trevor Story will be the Opening Day starter at shortstop for Colorado
The Rockies are one of the handful of National League teams currently in rebuilding mode, so naturally they’d be willing to give their younger talent a chance at cracking the major-league squad. With Jose Reyes’ legal issues (that he appears to have gotten past—now for MLB's crack at him) keeping him out of spring training, that left a spot at shortstop wide open for competition. The winner of that competition is highly touted prospect Trevor Story, who'll enter the season as the starting shortstop for Colorado.
In order to take on the role, Story had to beat out both Daniel Descalso and Christhian Adames. The 23-year-old had an extremely productive spring, as he’s hit .354/.426/.854 so far. Peak Ted Williams he's probably actually not, but Story did hit .279/.350/.514 in the minors in 2015. PECOTA projects him to hit .236/.300/.414, with a TAv of .243. ZiPS comes in a shade higher, though, and the rosier view would be a relatively acceptable level of production for a rookie.
The Rockies are bucking a trend when it comes to starting rookies and service time. In bringing Story up with the major-league squad for Opening Day, they'll sacrifice a year of club control down the road, barring a demotion when Reyes is finally back in action. The Rockies probably figure that they'll cross the service time bridge when they get to it, and they appear to be content rewarding their best spring training performance.
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