Giants Ink Tim Lincecum To Two Year, $35 Million Deal
The San Francisco Giants have a business model that they’ve followed to the success of two World Series Championships: we don’t let our home grown heroes leave town. Today, the Giants held true to form by agreeing to a two-year, $35 million contract with free agent to be Tim Lincecum. The 29-year old, two-time CY Young Award winner gets to stay with the only franchise he’s ever known in his career. The deal also includes a full no-trade clause, something that Lincecum insisted be in any deal he signed this off season. According to Comcast Sports Net Giants beat writer Andrew Baggarly, Lincecum gets $17 million this upcoming 2014 season and $18 million in 2015. The deal is still pending a physical.
Last season Lincecum had a 10-14 W-L record in 32 starts and 197.2 IP; with a 4.37 ERA, 102 R’s, 193 SO’s, 76 BB’s, and a 1.32 WHIP. Though his numbers last season don’t jump off the page at you, they are noticeably better than his 2012 campaign and his sabermetic numbers tell a different story. His FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) for the 2013 season was 3.73, his xFIP (Expected Fielding Independent Pitching) 3.56, and his WAR was 1.6 (sabermetric stats according to Fangraphs.com). He also notched his first career no-hitter this past season, pitching a brilliant 148 pitch gem against the San Diego Padres.
This was a win-win for the Giants and Lincecum, who both expressed a strong desire and hope that a deal would be reached. For the Giants, they are giving Lincecum a two-year deal for a somewhat discounted price ($17 million for 2014 compared to $22 million in 2013). If Lincecum doesn’t improve upon his 2013 season and instead spirals downward, they can get out from under his deal in just two-years. For Lincecum, he still gets paid relative to market value, and if he regained his old CY Young form, in two-years he can once again test the free agent market. At season’s end Giants General Manager Brian Sabean said that his two top priorities this upcoming off season were to bring back pending free agents Hunter Pence and Lincecum, before they hit the free agent market. The Giants accomplished that goal today (Pence was signed to a new 5-year, $90 million extension).
Lincecum is a creature of habit and enjoys familiarity. He made no secret of his strong interest in returning to the Giants, but also had an itch to see what he could garner from other ball clubs on the open free agent market. It was reported earlier this week that Lincecum had initially turned down a two-year offer made by the Giants, but whatever hiccup that was keeping the two from a deal must have gotten resolved quickly (my guess is Lincecum’s request for a no-trade clause).
When looking at the free agent market for starting pitchers and looking at the Giants in-house options, there really was no other choice but to bring Lincecum back. Of the potential free agent starting pitchers, the Giants weren’t going to jump into the Matt Garza and Ervin Santana pool, Hiroki Kuroda and Bartolo Colon are too old to commit more than two-years too, and they don’t have the prospects it would take to trade for David Price. When you look at the in-house options for the Giants, they saw what Mike Kickham could do this past season when he filled in for the injured Ryan Vogelsong, and it wasn’t pretty. Once heralded prospect Eric Surkamp saw a cup of coffee late in the season, and he got shelled in his only start of the season. He may ended up being a viable 5th starter, but that still would have left two open rotation spots to fill if the Giants decided to go in a different direction, away from Lincecum.
Giants fans couldn’t be happier with this move today. People forget that baseball is a business and sometimes, it’s not all about winning and losing ball games. The general baseball fan will balk at this Lincecum deal as being high-priced and the Giants way over-paid for Lincecum’s services. Well, sometimes in order to increase payroll, you need to sell jerseys and put butts in the seats; and Lincecum is still a beloved figured, fan-favorite, and main attraction amongst Giants Nation. I’m glad that Lincecum is back. Honestly, I couldn’t picture him wearing any other jersey.