The Giants could bring back right-hander Tim Lincecum on a minor-league contract this winter, according to educated speculation from Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. Lincecum will become a free agent when his two-year, $35 million contract expires at the end of the season.
Lincecum, a two-time Cy Young winner, has made just 41 starts for the Giants since signing that contract, posting ERAs of 4.74 and 4.13 in each season. He has dealt with significant injuries and recently underwent hip surgery that will require five months of recovery, lowering his stock tremendously as he heads toward free agency for the second time in his career.
The thought of Lincecum potentially signing a minor-league contract just four years after winning a Cy Young award would appear shocking if not for the quirky right-hander's struggles and inconsistency since 2011. Multiple teams will likely show interest in signing him due to his past performance and relative youth (still only 31 years old), with a minor-league deal or one-year, incentive-laden contract as the most likely options.
In nine years with the Giants, Lincecum has posted a 108-83 record and 3.61 ERA while being named to four All-Star teams and striking out 1,704 batters. He is a three-time World Series champion.