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Orioles rumors: Team has "big interest" in Tim Lincecum

The Orioles reportedly have "big interest" in Tim Lincecum, who's set to throw a showcase soon after having hip surgery last September. The two-time Cy Young winner hasn't been good in five years.

Once upon a time, the Orioles had the opportunity to take pitcher Tim Lincecum in the draft. They selected Billy Rowell instead and Lincecum was drafted one pick later by the San Francisco Giants. Within three years, Lincecum had won two Cy Young awards. This was not one of the great decisions in franchise history.

A decade later, the O's have their eye on Lincecum, who's now a free agent. MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported that the O's are one of three teams to have "big interest" in Lincecum, along with the Padres and Marlins.

If Lincecum was still the pitcher who racked up four straight 200+ IP seasons while posting a 2.81 ERA in that time, it would be exciting for the O's to be linked to him. He is not that pitcher any more. That was five years ago. For all the skepticism expressed about Yovani Gallardo and his declining velocity, he's nowhere close to the problem Lincecum has.

In 2011, Lincecum's most recent successful season, he was working with a 92.3mph average fastball velocity, according to Fangraphs. Last season, while pitching for the Giants - he only made 15 starts - he had an 87.2mph velocity on his fastball. His results have declined as you might expect.

Lincecum has been a below league-average pitcher since 2012. Where once he struck out a quarter or more of batters he faced, last year saw him strike out 18% of batters, and his walk rate has crept up from what was already a high 8-9% when he was successful to 11.4% last year. That's not an answer to anything. It's just another question mark, though that doesn't stop the pump-up tweets:

If people have already gone to "sneak a peek" and think that Lincecum "looks very good," why does he still need to have a showcase? Everyone would already know how he looks. He'll turn 32 years old in June. How much bounce-back could really be possible?

The other thing about this showcase is that the goalposts have continually been moving. Back in November, Lincecum was reportedly going to have a January showcase - that following September hip surgery. In January, that had turned into hopes for a February showcase. Now we're into the second half of February and it's going to be "close to March 1." This is not encouraging.

In some ways, this is the kind of signing the O's should have been aiming for all offseason - a pitcher who will be a bargain because they're looking to bounce back. But they passed on the opportunity to sign more-recently-successful Doug Fister and Mat Latos, though of course neither of those players ever had the success of Lincecum overall.

If Lincecum's looking as great as Heyman says, you might think he would be a better option than giving a bunch of money to Gallardo. They would keep the draft pick as well. I'd be inclined to agree, if only Lincecum had even one successful big league season since the Orioles stopped being horrible. He has done no such thing. And the other thing about if Lincecum looks as good as Heyman says is this: If he's all that, other teams will want to sign him.

Maybe it's sincere interest or maybe they're just trying to nudge along the Gallardo negotiations, not unlike how the O's reaching a deal with Chris Davis happened the night after the O's were said to have offered a five year contract to Yoenis Cespedes. As always, probably nothing will happen.