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The last we saw of Tim Lincecum was in 2016, when the two-time Cy Young winner signed with the Los Angeles Angels in May following a showcase tryout, made nine starts and was the worst pitcher in the league. He pitched 38 innings, allowed 68 hits, including 11 home runs, posted a 9.16 ERA and his 2.374 WHIP was the highest for a pitcher with at least 30 innings since 1997.

So with reports that Lincecum will sign a one-year major league contract with the Texas Rangers, the obvious question is why will this season be any different?

Lincecum had another showcase session on February 15 at the Driveline Baseball facility in Kent, Washington, outside of Seattle, throwing in front of scouts from 15 to 20 teams. Reports from the session indicated he threw about 25 pitches exclusively from the wind-up and hit 93 mph while averaging between 90-92. He showed no signs of the hip injury that bothered him at the end of his Giants career and required season-ending surgery in 2015. In December, Rockies pitcher Adam Ottavino posted a photo on Instagram of a ripped Lincecum working out in a sleeveless shirt.

So what do we know? Lincecum is in great shape. He can maybe hit 93 mph throwing at max effort at an indoor baseball facility. He’s well-rested after not pitching in 2017 and is now more than two years removed from the surgery. He obviously knows how to pitch, although precision control was never his forte.

This is obviously a complete roll of the dice by the Rangers, a minimal investment with the hope you hit the lottery. The most likely scenario would see Lincecum pitch out of the bullpen, where he would be a better bet to hold his velocity over short stints. With the Angels, his fastball averaged just 87.7 mph. One writer suggested that with the Rangers’ closer job wide open, Lincecum even has a chance to winning that role.

Call me skeptical.

First off, Lincecum hasn’t really been good since 2011, the last time he posted a sub-4.00 ERA. His year-by-year WAR totals since:

2012: minus-1.7

2013: minus-0.6

2014: minus-0.7

2015: 0.3

2016: minus-1.6

Remember, Lincecum was pitching in one of the best pitcher’s parks in the majors and still couldn’t keep his ERA below the league average. When the Giants won World Series titles in 2012 and 2014, it’s notable that Lincecum made just one playoff start over those two postseasons (and pitched just one game in relief the entire 2014 run).

We’re supposed to believe that seven years after his last good season Lincecum will rediscover stuff good enough to make him a closer? It’s not an impossible idea, but he has a lot to prove before the Rangers even remotely consider him for that job. Don’t you want to see some results before you trust him to get out Mike Trout with a one-run lead in the ninth inning?

It’s also unlikely the Rangers double down on a wild card like Lincecum as their Opening Day closer, given what happened last season when Sam Dyson nearly torpedoed their season in April when he blew all three of his save chances and was 0-4 with a 12.66 ERA through May 7. Alex Claudio isn’t a sexy alternative, but at least you know what you’re getting with him.

Is there a precedent for a Lincecum comeback? Bartolo Colon made just 47 starts from 2006 through 2010 (missing all of 2010) with a 5.18 ERA and certainly appeared finished before resurfacing with the Yankees in 2011. After his comeback he made two All-Star Games and has won 87 games. Guess what? Colon is in Rangers camp as a non-roster invite.

Hey, I hope it works out. Lincecum is from the same Seattle suburbs I grew up in and was obviously a wonder to watch at his peak. That peak was a long time ago, however. Certainly the Rangers saw something to give him a guaranteed contract, but I’ll be pleasantly surprised if Lincecum ends up a major contributor to the Rangers.

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New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom out until September with right forearm inflammation

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The New York Mets announced Friday that Jacob deGrom will be out until September due to additional inflammation in his right forearm.

The ace right-hander is 7-2 in 15 starts with a 1.08 ERA, but last pitched July 7 when he struck out 10 in seven innings against the Brewers. He will be shut down from throwing for two weeks, pushing the timetable for his return back to September.

Manager Luis Rojas didn’t offer any other update during his pregame media session, other than to say deGrom didn’t throw on Friday. DeGrom has suffered five injuries this season – shoulder soreness, right lat tightness, right side tightness, right flexor tendinitis — and had two starts pushed back and had an earlier stint on the injured list in May. When he landed on the IL with forearm tightness, he said the previous four injuries had each been caused while batting.

“When I go to release a baseball, I’m having a hard time staying through it and throwing the ball how I’m supposed to,” deGrom said in mid-July when the Mets officially placed him on the IL. “The other day, I felt it from literally lobbing a baseball and then never really seemed to get any better. Just continued to stay tight even when I got on the mound. I guess the positive thing is, structurally, my elbow looks good but the frustration part is why. What is it? What did I do to cause it?”

The Mets have used 16 different starting pitchers and will use their 17th on Friday night when Carlos Carrasco makes his Mets debut. The Mets will also wear black uniform tops, a fan favorite, for the first time in nine years.

Carrasco, part of the Francisco Lindor trade in the offseason, missed the first four months with a hamstring tear. The Mets acquired Rich Hill in a trade last week with the Rays and added Javier Baez and Trevor Williams in a deadline deal with the Cubs on Friday. Williams is 4-2 with a 5.06 ERA in 13 games (12 starts) with the Cubs, and has been hit hard, allowing 10 home runs and a .833 OPS in 58.2 innings.

Without deGrom, the rotation lines up as Marcus Stroman, Carrasco, Taijuan Walker, Hill and Tylor Megill, with Williams likely heading to the bullpen for now. Megill has pitched well with a 2.04 ERA in seven starts while Walker has struggled of late, with 17 runs allowed in 9.1 innings over his past three starts.

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Toronto Blue Jays acquire RHP Jose Berrios from Minnesota Twins for prospects

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MINNEAPOLIS — Despite all the speculation that surrounded Jose Barrios this month, with the Minnesota Twins nowhere near contention and ready to reload for the future, the right-hander wasn’t ready to accept he could be traded.

The news that he was heading to Toronto on Friday brought him and his wife to tears.

Then came the really hard part, having to break the news to their three children that he was joining the Blue Jays in a deadline-day deal that sent two highly rated minor leaguers to the Twins.

“I know that it will be hard because this year, they are bigger. They are growing up. They know more about life and also some people,” Barrios said, predicting the greatest difficulty for 7-year-old daughter Valentina.

Soon-to-be-5-year-old Sebastian and 3-year-old Diego had grown fond of Minneapolis and their friends there, too.

Barrios, drafted 32nd overall by the Twins in 2012, debuted with Minnesota in 2015. Though Puerto Rico was their home, he and his wife, Jannieliz, became strongly rooted in the community. He worked hard to be able to speak English effectively. Barrios felt strongly enough about the Twins he asked the team’s senior director of communications, Dustin Morse, to arrange a farewell Zoom session with reporters.

“When you’ve got your first team or your first time in everything, that’s where I made my MLB debut, so it’s going to be in my heart all my life,” Barrios said from St. Louis, where he had been scheduled to start a three-game series against the Cardinals.

Instead, the playoff-chasing Blue Jays won the aggressive pursuit for the two-time All-Star, who was one of the most attractive players available on the market. They parted with infielder/outfielder Austin Martin and right-hander Simeon Woods Richardson for the 27-year-old Barrios.

Toronto began the day at 51-48, in the fifth spot chasing two AL wild-card slots with a 4 1/2-game deficit to make up. Barrios was 7-5 with a 3.48 ERA in 20 starts for the Twins this season, their unquestioned ace who has been as durable as any pitcher in the game and remains under team control through the 2022 season.

The sadness aside, the opportunity to return to a postseason race will help stem the blow a bit for Barrios.

“They are competing and trying to get that push to the playoffs. I’m so happy to be part of that, and I’m going to put myself in the best position to help that team to make that this year,” he said.

Barrios has struck out 126 in 121 2/3 innings this season and held opponents to a .213 batting average. He was 55-43 with a 4.08 ERA in his career with Minnesota.

Dealing Barrios will set a struggling rotation back even further in the short term, but the Twins had leverage, with so many teams seeking high-end starting pitching. Minnesota decided to hasten the reset process for 2022 and beyond after this disappointing season on the heels of two straight AL Central titles.

“We were setting a high bar for a lot of these conversations,” president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said after the deadline passed.

The 22-year-old Martin hit .281 with a .424 on-base percentage and scored 43 runs in 55 games for Double-A New Hampshire. This is his first pro season after being drafted fifth overall in 2020 out of Vanderbilt, where he helped win the College World Series in 2019. Martin was ranked this year by MLB.com as the second-best prospect in Toronto’s system and the 16th-best prospect in the minor leagues. He played for the American League in the All-Star Futures Games this month at Coors Field. That AL side was managed by Twins special assistant LaTroy Hawkins.

The 20-year-old Woods Richardson was 2-4 with a 5.76 ERA in 11 starts for Double-A New Hampshire. Listed 68th overall in MLB.com’s prospect rankings, Woods Richardson is now playing for the United States in the Olympics in Tokyo with fellow pitcher Joe Ryan, who was acquired by the Twins last week in a trade that sent slugger Nelson Cruz to Tampa Bay. Woods Richardson was a second-round draft pick in 2018 by the New York Mets, who dealt him to Toronto in the trade for pitcher Marcus Stroman in 2019.

The Twins also traded two other pitchers on deadline day, sending starter J.A. Happ to St. Louis and reliever Hansel Robles to Boston.

Barrios was one of the few homegrown pitchers the Twins had successfully drafted and developed over the last two decades, but they’d been unable to secure him to a long-term contract and weren’t prepared to try to outbid for him on the open market if he were to reach free agency next year. So they took advantage of his hot market this summer and took another step toward restocking.

With Ryan, Woods Richardson and Drew Strotman, who was also recently acquired from the Rays for Cruz, the Twins have three more viable options for their future rotation.

One player the Twins hung onto was oft-injured center fielder Byron Buxton, whom they’ve also not yet been able to sign to an extension. Falvey said the Twins received plenty of interest in the multi-skilled Buxton, but not enough to warrant moving him.

“We’re just going to continue to focus right now on him getting as healthy as possible, get him back on the field, and getting him playing for us,” Falvey said.

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Chicago White Sox agree to trade with Chicago Cubs for closer Craig Kimbrel

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The Chicago White Sox have agreed to acquire All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel from the Chicago Cubs before the trade deadline, the team announced Friday.

In return, the Cubs are getting second baseman Nick Madrigal and right-hander Codi Heuer.

The White Sox, who lead the AL Central, were looking for bullpen help, and they now have it with Kimbrel and Liam Hendriks.

Kimbrel, 33, has 23 saves this season for the Cubs with an 0.49 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 36⅔ innings. Overall, he has 371 career saves with the Cubs, Red Sox, Padres and Braves over his 12 major league seasons.

“We viewed Craig as the premier relief pitcher available at this trade deadline, and so we knew the cost would be steep in terms of parting with young talent,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said in a statement. “But we recognize the special opportunity that currently exists and our team, our clubhouse and our fans deserve to know we will do everything we can to reach the postseason and win meaningful games in October.”

Madrigal tore his right hamstring and early June and is out for the season following surgery. He’s targeted to be the Cubs’ starting second baseman next season. He was hitting .305 when he was injured. Madrigal also won a minor league Gold Glove award in 2019.

Heuer, a 25-year-old right-hander, is 4-1 this season for the White Sox out of the bullpen. He’s appeared in 40 games. Last season, his first in the big leagues, he was 3-0 with a save and a 1.52 ERA in 21 appearances.

The White Sox entered Friday with an eight-game lead over division rival Cleveland. The Cubs are fourth in the NL Central and entering a rebuild.

The White Sox had already addressed the loss of Madrigal by acquiring slugging second baseman Cesar Hernandez from the Cleveland Indians on Thursday.

Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.

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