The rumors of Tim Lincecum coming to terms with the San Francisco Giants finally came to fruition today, as the two sides agreed to a two year, $40.5 million deal that will ink The Freak through 2013, the final two years of his arbitration eligibility.
The Giants reportedly offered Lincecum an eight year deal and were looking to make the 27-year-old right hander the first pitcher in MLB history to sign such a deal, but those talks quickly died down and the two sides didn’t really have much noise to make until the arbitration amounts for both sides were disclosed during last week’s deadline. The agreement favors the Giants original amount for the contract ($17.5 million), as Lincecum will get paid $18 million in 2012 and $22 million in 2013. The remaining $500,000 is thanks to a signing bonus per Andrew Baggerly of the San Jose Mercury.
It looks like the Giants eventually became the winner in this process, and keeping Lincecum in line with what they were looking to offer him this year and next year (where his number definitely would have creeped past the $20 million barrier) means that the front office can focus on extending Lincecum’s partner in crime Matt Cain to an extension. Cain, of course, goes into his final year of his current contract and will earn north of $15 million this year.
Lincecum has said many times beforehand that he prefers shorter deals, but the Giants have tried very hard in their two most recent sessions of contract negotiations to ink their man to a long term contract. The one problem this raises is what Lincecum could possibly bring in free agency, where many believe he could be Major League Baseball’s first $200 million pitcher if he has two more very good seasons with the Giants.
However, the Giants will be prepared to pay Lincecum at the end of his arbitration cycle thanks mostly to Barry Zito’s contract finally coming off the books in 2014, although he still will be owed a $7 million buyout. Considering the core the Giants have with Lincecum, Cain and Madison Bumgarner on the hill along with Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey and uber-prospect Gary Brown waiting in the wings offensively, the Giants have all the reasons in the world to try and hold on to the two-time Cy Young Award winner and make him a lifelong Giant. Cain is the only player amongst the six that will not be under team-control by the time Lincecum earns free agency eligibility.
Later on, I’ll have a follow-up article on Lincecum’s progress as a Giant through his first four full seasons and whether or not the Giants will ever be able to ink him to a long-term deal considering his “decline” in 2011 and whether or not somebody like Lincecum is even worth a long-term deal considering his size and unique pitching motion.