The Reds started the calendar year in a hole with their starting pitching, with by far their most seasoned vet in Homer Bailey scheduled to miss at least the first half of the season due to elbow surgery.
In the two and a half months since, things have only gotten worse.
In that time, the Reds have lost John Lamb to back surgery, Keyvius Sampson to a triceps injury and, as of this week, Michael Lorenzen to a UCL sprain. None of these appear to be season-ending injuries, but they do pose several serious issues in terms of the Reds' overall season plans. As Wick touched on Tuesday, the Reds now figure to enter the 2016 season armed with, in no certain order, Anthony Desclafani, Raisel Iglesias, Brandon Finnegan, Jon Moscot and, well, who the hell knows.
Tim Melville is probably the most likely option on the roster, but his 4.63 ERA as a 25-year old at AAA last season isn't the most inspiring thing, nor are the beatings he's taken in spring training. Robert Stephenson and Cody Reed would both be more exciting options, but that would require the Reds to use valuable service time from them in what is already a write-off year, and they could both benefit from at least a couple more months in the minors to fine-tune their respective repertoires.
Even those guys that appear to be locks for the rotation aren't a rock-solid group. Iglesias has already missed time this spring due to shoulder fatigue, Finnegan has basically no experience starting (just four starts in total), and Jon Moscot threw just 11.2 innings in 2015 before missing the rest of the season because of an injury of his own.
Which brings us to Tim Lincecum.
As you may have heard, Lincecum has been throwing in secret workouts throughout the past couple of months. Lincecum's medical history is far from glistening, but he's still (just?) 31 years old, and has posted FIP's of 4.31 and 4.29 over the past two seasons, respectively. Those aren't great numbers, and his roughly five innings per start are suspect, but he was still reasonably consistent for a guy to stick at the back of a rotation, at least for a month or two.
The arguments against this are both numerous and reasonable. Nobody's been allowed to see Lincecum throw yet, and may not be allowed to for another week, putting his odds of being ready to start for a major league team in the first week of April in question. He'd also cost the Reds a couple million dollars more than Melville, and his career numbers at Great American (8.41 ERA in four starts) leave a lot to be desired, though to be fair, that still sits below his career ERA overall against Cincinnati of 9.26 in seven starts.
But, there are ways for this to be a very beneficial move for both sides. For one, Lincecum wouldn't have to face those fearsome Reds who turn into hulking monsters against him anymore. Cincinnati could also offer Lincecum a near-guaranteed starting job, something teams like the Royals, Marlins and others aren't necessarily willing to guarantee him. As for the Reds, if Lincecum comes out of these workouts anywhere near his pre-2012 form, he becomes pretty decent trade bait in July.
Lincecum isn't the only option remaining for Cincinnati. Kyle Kendrick just got released because of a dreadful spring, and a trio of former Reds in Aaron Harang, Kyle Lohse and Alfredo Simon have spent the winter waiting for their phones to ring. But none of them are as young as Lincecum, nor do they possess his upside.
The incentive for Cincinnati to add a veteran arm has never been greater than it is now. For all parties involved, that veteran should probably by The Freak.