Lincecum heading to Rangers, could join 'pen

February 27th, 2018

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Rangers have agreed to a contract with free-agent pitcher Tim Lincecum, according to Major League sources. The deal is pending a physical and has not been confirmed by the club.

Lincecum tried out for clubs earlier this month, and the Rangers were impressed enough to pursue the right-hander. Lincecum could join the ever-growing crowd of candidates for the Rangers' rotation, or he could be used out of the bullpen.

There is a possibility the Rangers could give Lincecum a chance to be the closer. Alex Claudio finished last season in that role, but the job appears to be open. Lincecum has never been a closer in his career, but other pitchers -- most notably Wade Davis -- have made that transition from starter during their careers.

Lincecum did not pitch in the Majors or Minors last season. He was with the Giants from 2007 through 2015, helping them win three World Series titles. He was also the National League Cy Young Award winner in 2008 and '09.

But his career seemed on the brink after he underwent left hip surgery on Sept. 2, 2016, to repair a torn labrum. He tried to make a comeback with the Angels in 2016, posting a 2-6 record and 9.16 ERA in nine starts before sitting out last season.

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Lincecum would be the fourth pitcher signed by the Rangers in February. They signed Bartolo Colon just before reporting to Spring Training, then signed Jesse Chavez and Edinson Volquez after camp opened.

Chavez made his first start for the Rangers on Tuesday against the Dodgers and pitched two scoreless innings. Colon is slated to make his first start on Thursday against the Padres in Surprise. Volquez is recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)

Fantasy owners would be wise not to dismiss Lincecum's fantasy potential after watching converted starters such as Wade Davis, Andrew Miller and Brad Hand thrive out of the bullpen in recent years. With Alex Claudio and Keone Kela representing his main competition for save chances, the 33-year-old righty has a reasonable chance to emerge as the Rangers' closer this season. Lincecum can go undrafted in shallow formats while fantasy owners wait and see how Texas arranges its relief corps, but he's worthy of a selection in deep mixed leagues.