Barry Zito

Giants and Tim Lincecum agree: two years, $40.5 million

The San Francisco Giants and Tim Lincecum avoided an arbitration hearing, as reports have the two sides agreeing on a 2-year contract that pays $18 million in 2012, $22 million in 2013 and a $500,000 signing bonus (which should come in handy during those pesky legal disputes with landlords).

The Giants tried to see if Lincecum would be open to a bit of a long-term discount, and Lincecum repeatedly signaled that he wasn’t interested in relinquishing the opportunity to maximize his post-2013 earning potential. After working alongside Barry Zito all these years, it’s hard to blame him.

This isn’t exactly the recipe for a tantalizing, controversial, link-worthy blog post … but both sides come away happy here.

— Lincecum gets richer, and if he stays healthy and productive should receive a record-breaking contract offer (or six) in a couple years, when he can sign with the team of his choosing. All Lincecum really seems to care about is pitching well and being a part of a winning team. However, as these negotiations have played out over the past couple months, it sure seems like Lincecum also really cares about — and looks forward to — a time when he has the freedom to pitch where he pleases, on his terms.

Oh, and turn those consecutive Cy Young Awards into enough money to buy Jamaica. Why Jamaica? No reason…

— The Giants keep Lincecum and avoid going to arbitration with him this year and next. They aren’t tied to any individual player past 2013 except Pablo Sandoval, who’s signed through 2014 to a contract that came at a pretty decent bargain. And the dollar amount they’re giving Lincecum signals that perhaps they aren’t the cheapest franchise in the world — even if fans are (rightfully) frustrated about the team’s less-than-aggressive attempts to improve their offense this winter.

While the Giants didn’t come through with an 8-year, $200 million offer, this 2-year deal Lincecum and the Giants agreed to is fair. Lincecum sells tickets (bonus for the Giants) and $20 million per year is a lot of money (bonus for Timmy). So, theoretically, no hard feelings on either side. The Giants may not have a “hometown advantage” if they want to sign Lincecum after 2013, but Lincecum shouldn’t be upset with the front office — especially if the 2012 team performs better offensively than many figure they will.

Many are wondering if this is the last contract Lincecum will ever sign with the Giants, and it may very well be. It’s depressing to imagine Lincecum in a Mariners uniform, but security comes at a price. Lincecum’s in shape, he’s passionate about being an elite pitcher (at least based on demeanor, no one on the team takes losses harder), but there’s no guarantee he’ll still look like a $20-$25 million pitcher at the end of the 2013 season. Lincecum wasn’t going to give the Giants a deal, now the Giants get to utilize and analyze his services over the next two years and decide if they’re going to give him the Zito-plus-$90MM deal he’s looking for.

If Lincecum kills it the next two years and the Giants don’t pony up? It’s going to be chaos around here, but here’s the bright side: it could lead to several tantalizing, controversial, link-worthy blog posts. So we’d have that going for us.

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