The Texas Rangers have announced the signing of pitcher Tim Lincecum to a one year deal. To make room for him on the 40 man roster, the Rangers have designated catcher/first baseman Brett Nicholas for assignment.
The Rangers and Lincecum had reportedly agreed to a deal last week, but the official announcement was delayed until today due to a death in Lincecum’s family and him getting his physical. Lincecum is expected to work out of the bullpen, and supposedly could be in the mix for the closer role, although with Opening Day just about three weeks away, Lincecum could start the season on the disabled list as he works to get himself ready for the season with his late start to spring training.
Nicholas being DFA’d, meanwhile, is a bit of a surprise. He spent the final two months of 2017 as Robinson Chirinos’s backup, as well as getting time in 2016, and has a career .252/.300/.456 slash line. The 29 year old was a 6th round pick in 2010 out of the University of Missouri, and was decent third catcher depth in AAA. However, there has always been concern that his defense wasn’t major league caliber, and with Juan Centeno currently in camp, and Jose Trevino and Isiah Kiner-Falefa on the 40 man roster and starting the season in the minors, the Rangers appear to have decided that they have sufficient catching options such that keeping Nicholas on the 40 man roster isn’t a worthwhile use of roster space.
Centeno, meanwhile, would appear to be the favorite for the backup catcher job. He was claimed off of waivers from Houston during the offseason, and is out of options.