According to sources Tim Lincecum wants an 8-year deal from the Giants, and barring that he is more than willing to stay with short term deals with the Giants until he reaches free agency after the 2013 season.
So what kind of a money would a guy with Lincecum’s talent level command over eight years?
A few weeks ago I looked at locking up Matt Cain to a long-term deal on my Giants blog and I want to go about looking at what kind of a deal would make sense for Lincecum. With each passing day it looks like it will take something bigger than the infamous and regrettable Barry Zito contract to keep Lincecum around.
Who are the Comparable Pitchers?
The first and hardest question: who are the right people to compare Lincecum to when you’re looking to price a deal like this? The closest deals of note recently on the free agent market would be for C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay, and even these deals are not perfect comparables considering Lincecum’s unique skill set.
Sabathia is probably the closet comparable pitcher because when he signed his free agent deal with the Yankees he was the same age as what Lincecum is right now. However, even Sabathia’s resume doesn’t compare to what Tim has accomplished in his short time in the majors.
When Sabathia signed his deal three seasons ago he got an average annual value (AAV) of $23 million. This offseason he opted out of his contract and added an extra season, at the same time raising the AAVof his contract to $24 million per season.
The other comparable pitchers on my list have AAV close to that as well, Lee signed with the Phillies at his age 32 season to a 5-year deal for $24 million AAV and Halladay signed with the Phillies for an additional three years at $22 million AAV at his age 34 season. For Lincecum being younger than both of these guys he will probably want more years or more money.
So What Should Lincecum Expect?
If I were Lincecum’s agent I would push for a deal that surpasses what Sabathia was able to get at the same age because Lincecum has been a better pitcher up to the same age.
My starting point if I were Lincecum would probably be around eight years with an AAV of $25 million to try to be the first $200 million pitcher in Major League history. If I were the Giants I’d probably start with six years with an AAV of what Sabathia got in his first deal ($23 million) with vesting options for a couple extra seasons to get to the length that he is asking for (eight years).
Either way, a deal that is “friendly to the team” is pretty much out of the question. At arbitration Lincecum is looking at an $18 to $20 million payday with a raise for next season highly likely.
No matter if Lincecum signs a big extension or not, his days of being a bargain for the Giants are long gone. The question now is how longer he will be wearing the French vanilla as opposed to pinstripes (or whoever else is willing to pony up the money), and how much he’ll cost.
The Giants have two more seasons at least of arbitration with their ace, but the window for signing Lincecum long term is no longer team friendly and becomes more expensive with each passing day.
So if you were the Giants what would you offer Mr. Lincecum? Let us know in the comments.