Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday Baseball Post

The big news of the day, at least for the Giants, is that Tim Lincecum settled with the Giants on a two-year deal, avoiding arbitration.

I think this one was just about perfect on both sides, at this point.  Going into arbitration, the Giants were at $8M, Lincecum at $13M.  There's never, of course, been a two-time Cy winner becoming eligible for arbitration for the first time, so there are no real comps...I think the sense was that the Giants bid far too low, and that Lincecum would probably win.  They agreed to two years, $23M.

I think the Giants are basically getting him at a bargain.  If they go to arbitration both years, and he has a solid year in 2010, they could easily wind up paying him $30M.  What they're actually paying him is only a little more than he would get if he lost in arbitration this year and had a mediocre year in 2010. 

So why would he do it?  Two years seems exactly right to me for Lincecum.  He's going to make $23M.  Who knows; pitchers are fragile creatures, and there's no guarantee that he's still worth anything at all in 2011.  This way, whatever else happens, he's going to make $23M, which is far more than anyone really needs in a lifetime.  Now, at some level, so is the $8M that was his bottom line for this season, and I don't want to get all Michael Steele on y'all, but after agent fees, and taxes...well, sure, he'd be rich for the rest of his life even if he never works a day after this season, but only normal regular rich.  Thought of as a lifetime income, $8M is certainly pretty good, but...What I'm thinking if I'm Lincecum is this.  If he has a long and productive career, he's going to be rich beyond imagination, rich enough that he'll never miss the difference between ~$30M and $23M over these next two seasons.  If, on the other hand, something goes wrong, the difference between $8M, or even $13M, and $23M is pretty significant.  So there's really a lot of incentive to play it safe for now. 

As much as I want Lincecum pitching for the Giants through his whole career, I think from a practical standpoint they would have been nuts to go much farther than two years right now.  They still control his contract for a long while.  If they believe he's going to have a long, great career, then they should wait until he has a down season, and then lock him up for several years at a discount price.  It's hard to believe that his price is really going to go up again...what's he going to do, win a third and fourth straight Cy?  If he does that, sure, you take a multi-million dollar hit, but on the other hand you just got two more discount Cy seasons, and maybe you actually made something of one of them. 

So, good work by Sabean, and congrats to Tim Lincecum, who is going to be a very wealthy man.  I'm happy to see it.  I won't ask him how he's planning to celebrate, though....

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