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Lincecum poised to break the arbitration bank

Nov 25, 2009, 10:23 AM EDT

Yahoo!’s Tim Brown reports that Tim Lincecum’s agents could file a $23 million arbitration figure if the Giants don’t come to their freakin’ senses and buy out the guy’s arbitration years.

$23 million would dwarf the previous largest request — Derek Jeter asked for $18.5 million in 2001 before settling on a ten-year contract.  The largest ever award to a guy with low service time like Lincecum was $10 million to Ryan Howard. Personally, I can’t see the Giants even submitting anything as low as $10 million as their arbitration number (remember: the arbitrators have to pick either the player’s number or the team’s number; they can’t split the difference).  He has already accomplished more than Ryan Howard did at this point in his career, and there is a good argument that there is no better pitcher in the game than the guy. Against that backdrop, it strikes me that the Giants would have to submit at least $10 million in order to not insult the arbitrators’ intelligence.

That said, I don’t think that the arbitrators would actually award $23 million. The process is defined by the search for comparables with a healthy dose of service time analysis, and while there certainly isn’t a comparable pitcher in terms of quality to Lincecum, there isn’t a comparable salary anywhere close to that either.  CC Sabathia makes that and he has eight years under his belt.  The arbitrators would certainly balk at just erasing nearly seven years of service time.

But clearly, Timmy is gonna get paid.  If the Giants move now and make a long term offer, they can make that paycheck (relatively) low on the front end, and allow it to grow as Aaron Rowand’s and Edgar Renteria’s contracts fall off the books in the next couple of years.  With a talent like Lincecum’s, it seems like the smarter play than gambling with the arbitrators.

  1. Old Gator - Nov 25, 2009 at 11:02 AM

    With that kind of money, he can afford the more expensive hydroponically grown stuff – like the weed they grow in those hanging cylinders on the boat tour through “The Land” pavillion at Epcot.
    By the way, doesn’t Lincecum remind one a bit of Nuke LaLoosh?

  2. Brian - Nov 25, 2009 at 11:08 AM

    I think the Giants front office would LOVE it if Lincecum filed for $23M. There’s no way an arb judge is awarding that much. Not for a first year eligible player. Lincecum would lose quite a bit of leverage in negotiating middle ground and avoiding arbitration if he filed that high.
    I’ll bet he files for around $14M, the Giants file at around $11-$12M, then they settle in between or do a long term deal.

  3. Mark Runsvold - Nov 25, 2009 at 12:17 PM

    I’ve gotta think Timmy’s got his head screwed on much straighter than LaLoosh. Lincecum also came out of college throwing something like six pitches (including a knuckler) as compared to Nuke’s one.

  4. upoopscooperhead - Nov 25, 2009 at 12:40 PM

    (remember: the arbitrators have to pick either the player’s number or the team’s number; they can’t split the difference).

  5. Brian - Nov 25, 2009 at 1:47 PM

    Yep. I got that. I’m just saying that it wouldn’t be surprising if they do a one-year deal before the arbitration hearing so that it doesn’t actually end up in arbitration. Which is why he’d NEVER actually file for $23M, since that’s unwinnable for Lincecum assuming the Giants file at $10-$13M. maybe in a 3rd or 4th arbitration year, but not in a first.

  6. Old Gator - Nov 25, 2009 at 2:55 PM

    You’re right in all respects, of course. I was thinking of something much more superficial. In the post-bust pics of Lincecum that I saw, he had the same glazed, dopey stare of incomprehension on his face as Nuke, and I don’t know what he uses for underwear so I’m not in a position to make any assumptions about that. However, based upon what we know about him now, I think it would probably be more accurate to say that Lincecum has his head fused on – and whether straighter or not, well, we can agree to disagree about that. Hell of a pitcher, though.

  7. Old Gator - Nov 25, 2009 at 2:56 PM

    You’re right in all respects, of course. I was thinking of something much more superficial. In the post-bust pics of Lincecum that I saw, he had the same glazed, dopey stare of incomprehension on his face as Nuke, and I don’t know what he uses for underwear so I’m not in a position to make any assumptions about that. However, based upon what we know about him now, I think it would probably be more accurate to say that Lincecum has his head fused on – and whether straighter or not, well, we can agree to disagree about that. Hell of a pitcher, though.

  8. tramps like us - Nov 25, 2009 at 3:32 PM

    maybe…just maybe…the Giants are poised to run the division for 4-5 years, starting in 2010. The Freak, Matt Cain, and Bumgarner have the potential to comprise the heart of the game’s best pitching staff. And they’re finally starting to add some hitters, beginning with Fat Ichiro this season and Buster Posey next. Be afraid, Dodger fans…be VERY afraid.

  9. Justin - Nov 25, 2009 at 5:04 PM

    Craig, perhaps your legal backgroun (congrats on the final day!) can help us here. Is this system of arbiration (both sides picka number and the arbitrator has to pick one) normal? This just seems antiquated to me.
    I hope that in the next CBA the players union does something to address the arbitration issue overall. The issue of adjusting players service clock (Ex: JJ Hardy) to avoid Super Two status and the isssues that mediocre free agents (Ex: Juan Cruz) face struggling to sign somewhere because they are a Type A free agent seem like two big issues to address. Can the arbitration process also be included in that? Is this something that is even possible to change? If yes, what would you suggest to change it?
    My apologies if you’ve answered this before. I’ve been a long-time Shysterball reader, but I’m new to CTB.

  10. Craig Calcaterra - Nov 25, 2009 at 6:25 PM

    Justin — it’s all a function of the collective bargaining agreement the union and owners entered into it. They could change it if they want, but that’s what they agreed on. Yes, the “one number or another” system is a bit silly, but there are reasons for it (no one wants to put on so much evidence of value that it costs so much to arbitrate, but at the same time, they want a system that involves risk — one number or the other — to encourage settlement). Service time games are depressing, but it was a foreseeable part of the deal the players entered into. If they want to change it, they have to make a point of it in negotiation, and as of yet they haven’t seen it as worth the trouble.

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