Don't expect to see Tim Lincecum in a Giants uniform next season.
He has been a favorite in San Francisco — fans love him — but he is almost surely gone, as in out of here.
The Giants will make him a lowball offer. Think $8 million. It is not lowball to you and me, but to a two-time Cy Young guy it's pocket change. The Giants frankly hope he doesn't take the $8 million. They would like him to move on.
Some teams are interested in Lincecum and will pay him more than the Giants. The Mariners, who play in his hometown, see him as an attraction. The Rangers and Detroit inquired about him during the waiver period. Expect the Rangers to keep inquiring. The Red Sox would be interested in Lincecum, but get this, as a reliever.
What do all the interested teams have in common?
They are in the American League.
Why are American League teams more interested in Lincecum than National League teams?
Because Lincecum is an American League pitcher pitching in the National League. That's what he has become.
The prototype of a National League pitcher is a guy who throws extreme heat — something Lincecum used to do. The stereotype of an American League pitcher is someone who throws off-speed stuff. That's what Lincecum does now. The Giants are down on his velocity and know he never will get it back. They notice he relies on the changeup and slider and can't overpower batters anymore. The Giants believe he is incapable of being who he used to be.
Ryan Vogelsong will not return next season. If he does, it will be shocking. This is a nice man with a fairytale story, but he is 36 — too old — and he has not regained his velocity after coming back from injury. He has not shown enough to the Giants' decision makers. The Giants can buy him out for $300,000. To keep him, they would have to pay him a $6.5 million club option. They will buy him out.
Barry Zito is history in San Francisco. That's obvious. The Giants will buy him out at $7 million instead of picking up his option for $18 million. Was this the worst contract in the entire history of contracts? But Zito is not necessarily history in the majors. As wacky as this seems, expect an American League team to invite him to spring training for a look-see.
The Giants' core starting pitchers next season are Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain. No brainer. If Lincecum stays, they will need a fourth and a fifth starter. They most likely will need a third, fourth and fifth because Lincecum won't stay.
They like Yusmeiro Petit as a starter and are intrigued by Chad Gaudin, who could be a starter or long reliever. Both come cheap.
They will test the market for additional starters. They like Bronson Arroyo, who recently said he left his heart in San Francisco. This could be a match made in heaven — well, made on the new span of the Bay Bridge. He is 36 but he's still a good pitcher, a better investment than Vogelsong.
The Giants like Ricky Nolasco but expect the Dodgers, with all that money, to re-sign him.