Lincecum Prefers Year-To-Year Gamble

I know we’ve already linked to this story, but I wanted to dig in a little further.  John Shea heard from Tim Lincecum‘s agent that the 24 year-old pitcher prefers year-to-year contracts for now.  As far as I can tell, Lincecum will be a Super Two player.  That means he will be arbitration-eligible four times, the first coming after the ’09 season.

Lincecum surely knows that recent long-term deals given to young starters are quite team-friendly if the pitcher stays healthy.  Matt Cain and James Shields look like huge bargains, as was Dan Haren.  Then again, Noah Lowry and Ian Snell are probably happy they signed on the dotted line.  The going rate is $13-14MM for the pitcher’s three arbitration years, often with multiple club options involved.

Lincecum, Felix Hernandez, and Cole Hamels are examples of young aces on the year-to-year path.  Felix will be especially interesting – he could reach free agency at age 25. 

Joe Blanton might be their role model.  In his first arb year, he earned $3.7MM.  He could get $6.5MM for ’09 and $10MM for ’10.  By taking the year-to-year gamble, he could increase his arb-year earnings by 50% and reach free agency as soon as possible.  Of course, Blanton may have preferred a long-term deal all along. 

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