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Orioles have expressed interest in free-agent right-hander Tim Lincecum

Could the Orioles make a play for Tim Lincecum?

The Orioles are still looking to upgrade their starting rotation, and are “one of several teams” that have expressed interest in free-agent right-hander Tim Lincecum, according to an industry source.

The level of the their interest -- beyond inquiring about the health of the two-time National League Cy Young Award winner -- is unclear, especially since Lincecum has yet to hold a planned showcase for teams as he returns from hip surgery that ended his 2015 season prematurely. 

A date for Lincecum to throw for teams has yet to be finalized, but he was reportedly set to begin throwing off a mound last week.

At this point in the offseason, the crop of free-agent starting pitchers is depleted. And while the Orioles still like right-hander Yovani Gallardo, they do not want to give up the first-round draft pick that would be attached to signing him. Otherwise, the Orioles seem rather unimpressed with other options.

So depending on how Lincecum looks in his showcase, it might be worth the Orioles making a play for the 31-year-old right-hander.

Lincecum is said to be looking for a major league deal. The Orioles have been open to incentive-laden minor league deals in the past, like the contract they gave Johan Santana as he recovered from a second shoulder surgery.

Though Santana’s contract was a minor league deal, it paid him $3 million, included multiple opt-out dates and a caveat that he had to be added to the 40-man roster by June. Santana was nearing a big league return before suffering a season-ending Achilles injury.

Lincecum, a four-time All-Star who won back-to-back NL Cy Young awards with the San Francisco Giants in 2008 and 2009, was 7-4 with a 4.13 ERA in 15 starts last year. His last start came on June 27 and a month later, he was diagnosed with a degenerative condition in both hips. The injury needed season-ending surgery in September.

While Lincecum has struggled to find his past form over the past four seasons – he was 39-42 with a 4.68 ERA from 2012 to 2015 – he showed flashes of dominance, throwing no-hitters in 2013 and 2014. He was 4-2 with a 2.08 ERA over his first eight starts last season before posting a 7.53 ERA in his final seven starts prior to being shelved with the hip injury.

eencina@baltsun.com
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