The Giants inked free agent Todd Wellemeyer to a minor league contract this winter and told him he’d have a legitimate shot at making the team as a fifth starter or long reliever.
Despite the promises, we considered Wellemeyer a longshot to make the team when he signed. But he has shot out of the gate this spring with a 1.20 ERA over five spring appearances and is out-pitching Madison Bumgarner, his 20-year-old competition for the final spot in San Francisco’s rotation. Bumgarner doesn’t have any experience above the Double-A level and has served up far too many runs in Cactus League play this spring while showing an inability to strike batters out.
Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle believes Wellemeyer will indeed open the season as the Giants’ No. 5 starter and gathered this nugget from manager Bruce Bochy after the 31-year-old right-hander rattled off five scoreless innings Saturday against the Reds:
“He threw great,” Bochy said. “He attacked the zone and had command of
everything, and he threw strike one. He was on top of his game. He’s
thrown the ball well all spring.”
We can’t say for sure if the success will continue into the regular season. In fact, we’d rather bet against it. Wellemeyer owns a poor 4.74 career ERA and 1.51 WHIP, and went 7-10 last season with a 5.89 ERA and 1.77 WHIP in 28 appearances (21 starts) for the Cardinals.
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.
Free agent right-hander Jeff Manship has reportedly signed with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The righty was non-tendered by the Indians in December.
Manship, 32, completed his second season with Cleveland in 2016. He delivered a 3.12 ERA, 4.6 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 rate over 43 1/3 innings, a slight decline after posting an 0.92 ERA with the club the year before. During eight years in the major leagues, Manship carries a 4.82 career ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 6.4 SO/9 in multiple stints with the Twins, Rockies, Phillies and Indians.
The right-hander will be joined by fellow MLB transplants Eric Hacker and Xavier Scruggs, each of whom took one-year deals with the Dinos last month. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors notes that each KBO team is allowed up to three foreign players, so Manship will round out the trio when he joins the roster. Any salary terms have yet to be disclosed.