Tim Lincecum Rumors
Sunday afternoon linkage..
- The Giants are seeking middle ground with Tim Lincecum in their contract talks, tweets Jon Heyman of SI. The club's first offer was for four years but the right-hander would like eight years in a long-term deal. Lincecum is also comfortable with a one or two-year deal.
- The Mets would love to trade for Athletics closer Andrew Bailey but are more likely to sign one or two relievers from a list that includes Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch, Brad Lidge, and Matt Capps, writes Mike Puma of the New York Post.
- The Marlins are in the mix for most of this winter's top free agents but haven't landed a big-name free agent since signing Carlos Delgado after the 2004 season. Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel caught up with Delgado's agent, David Sloane, to recap how that came to happen. The slugger was pursued by the Mets, Orioles, Rangers, and Mariners during the Winter Meetings but didn't hear from the Fish until ten days after they concluded.
- The Dodgers' payroll will be below $90MM, the lowest in years, thanks in part to the backloaded deal they gave to pitcher Chris Capuano, tweets Jon Heyman of SI.
The Giants extended the contracts of GM Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy through 2013 earlier today. Here's the latest from San Fran...
- Sabean told John Shea of The San Francisco Chronicle that he will speak to Carlos Beltran's camp today (Twitter link). "It's a fluid situation as well as other conversations we're in," said the GM.
- "There won't be any big splashes," said Sabean to Andrew Baggarly of The Mercury News (on Twitter). He added that there would be no "sticker shock" acquisitions.
- Sabean is "not sure" if the team will be able to re-sign Cody Ross, according to Baggarly (on Twitter).
- Bobby Evans, the Giants vice president of baseball operations, said the team has exchanged "broad numbers and ideas" with Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain about contract extensions, reports Baggarly (on Twitter). Lincecum is reportedly seeking a one or two-year deal.
The latest from San Francisco....
- The Giants haven't engaged in any discussions about a multiyear deal or even a one-year contract to avoid arbitration with Tim Lincecum, the hurler's agent Rick Thurman tells Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. Thurman is not too concerned about the lack of talks so far, as teams deal with long-term contracts later in an offseason. We've heard the Giants want to lock up both Lincecum and Matt Cain to multiyear deals, though Thurman reiterated to Schulman that Lincecum prefers short-term contracts.
- The Giants' priority is more outfield help, with Carlos Beltran topping their wish list, reports ESPN's Buster Olney (Twitter link). San Francisco has already acquired one outfielder this winter, picking up Melky Cabrera two weeks ago.
- The club designated outfielder Darren Ford and right-hander Waldis Joaquin for assignment, according to Schulman (Twitter link). Both players were DFA'd off the 40-man roster to clear room for players the Giants wanted to protect from Rule 5 draft. Ford has 16 career plate appearances in The Show and has stolen 306 bases (out of 384 attempts) in the minors. The White Sox picked up Joaquin off waivers last November but was granted free agency and re-signed with the Giants less than two weeks later. The righty has a 5.40 ERA in 21 2/3 Major League innings.
- Angel Villalona has been taken off Major League Baseball's restricted list, tweets Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News. Villalona was charged with murder in the Dominican Republic two years ago but the charges were dropped. Giants VP Bobby Evans tells Baggarly that he doesn't expect any issues with Villalona attempting to get a new U.S. work visa. The Giants played Villalona on their 40-man roster earlier today to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.
A few notes regarding the 2010 World Series champs ...
- Tim Lincecum's agent, Rick Thurman of Beverly Hills Sports Council, said he's not seeking more than a one- or two-year deal for the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner, tweets Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News, although Thurman added that "there are never any absolutes."
- Lincecum is eligible for two more rounds of arbitration -- and could see an historic raise if it gets that far -- before free agency after 2013. Suffice it to say Lincecum, still only 27, has some bargaining leverage, so it could take something as substantial as an eight-year deal to lock him up, as suggested by Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com.
- VP of baseball operations Bobby Evans said the Giants could add an outfield bat, but he doesn't envision drastic changes, tweets Morosi. Evans also mentioned Buster Posey and Freddy Sanchez are on track to be healthy for Spring Training as they recover from their respective season-ending injuries in 2011.
- The owners today approved Larry Baer's appointment as Giants CEO, according to Baggarly. Baer replaces for Bill Neukom, who was asked to step down in September. Baggarly expects business as usual under Baer, who has been a long-tenured executive with the organization.
The latest out of the NL West...
- Signing Tim Lincecum to a multiyear deal is at the top of the Giants' agenda, reports SI's Jon Heyman. The Giants are aiming for at least a four-year deal, which would buy out two years of free agency. Though Matt Cain is a year closer to free agency, Heyman says the focus is more on Lincecum. Heyman believes Lincecum's agents at Beverly Hills Sports Council could file as high as $25MM in arbitration this winter, in my opinion a risky move if the Giants come in around $20MM. For more on Lincecum's historic arbitration case, click here.
- The Rockies will not dabble financially in marginal players, explained GM Dan O'Dowd to Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post. They do have interest in Paul Maholm, Jeff Francis, and J.C. Romero, though, according to Renck, after bigger free agent targets such as Grady Sizemore and Roy Oswalt.
- The Dodgers will lower their payroll in 2012, tweets Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times. The team's opening day payroll was about $120MM in 2011. So far this offseason they've added $6.5MM in 2012 salaries for Mark Ellis and Juan Rivera. Here's my offseason outlook for the club.
- Unlike Ellis' deal, Aaron Hill's new contract with the Diamondbacks is not backloaded. He'll earn $5.5MM in each of the '12 and '13 seasons, tweets Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. Piecoro has an updated look at Arizona's payroll, and concludes that they'd need to non-tender Joe Saunders to be able to afford one of the better free agent pitchers on the market. MLBTR readers are split remarkably evenly as to whether Saunders will be tendered a contract on December 12th.
Despite their desperate need for offense, SI.com's Jon Heyman says (on Twitter) there's no evidence the Giants would trade either Tim Lincecum or Matt Cain this offseason. One GM went so far as to say there's "no point even asking."
Cain, 27, will earn $15MM in 2012 before becoming a free agent next winter. Lincecum, also 27, is in line for a historic arbitration payday and won't hit free agency until after the 2013 season. The two right-handers have thrown at least 200 innings in each of the past four seasons, and only once did they post an ERA higher than 3.45 (Cain in 2008). In terms of wins over replacement, Lincecum (24.7) and Cain (15.9) have been the 5th and 15th most valuable pitchers in baseball since the start of 2008, respectively.
Giants GM Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy discussed the 2011 season at a year-in-review press conference today and Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle has the details:
- The Giants are going to focus on the pitching staff before addressing the offense this winter.
- There are strong indications that the Giants won’t push for free agents Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols, according to Schulman.
- Sabean won’t rule out a long-term deal for Tim Lincecum, but negotiations with Matt Cain will be a higher priority, since Cain is eligible for free agency one year from now. Lincecum appears to prefer short-term deals anyway.
- Barry Zito and non-tender candidate Jonathan Sanchez will be in Spring Training competing for the rotation, according to Sabean. This is the strongest indication yet that Sanchez will be tendered a contract this offseason. His salary will likely surpass $6MM in 2012.
- Sabean and Bochy said Aubrey Huff didn’t do enough to get in shape last offseason and they have told him to do more this winter.
- The Giants have said they want to upgrade in center field and the leadoff spot. They don’t consider Justin Christian to be the solution, so Schulman wonders if Coco Crisp could be a fit.
- If the Giants don’t pick up Jeremy Affeldt’s $5MM option, they’ll renegotiate another deal with him. As I explained earlier in the month, Affeldt would be in position to command a multiyear deal in free agency if the Giants allow him to hit the open market.
- The Giants will look to add second base depth, though they may not be willing to meet Jeff Keppinger’s asking price.
- Sabean says the Giants will give Cody Ross "due consideration" as a free agent, according to Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News (on Twitter).
They call Tim Lincecum the Freak for his unusual delivery, but the nickname may also apply when it comes to contract talks. While most players are eager to sign their first long-term deal, the Giants’ two-time Cy Young winner told Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle that he feels most comfortable on one or two-year contracts.
"It's just easier for me mentally not to have to put that kind of pressure on yourself," he said. "Not that you don't want to succeed, but when you're signed to a long-term deal, it's like saying, 'I'm going to live up to every expectation.' That's why I like going year to year, so I can improve on it and not sit on what I've done."
Lincecum still has two years of arbitration eligibility after this season and he says he’d be open to a two-year deal similar to the one that bought out his first two seasons of arbitration eligibility. He says he likes the two-year, $23MM contract he signed before the 2010 season, since it allowed him to move gradually through the arbitration process. But if the Giants make an aggressive long-term offer, the Beverly Hills Sports Council client will listen.
"It all depends on how they come after me," he told Schulman. "If it's aggressive, obviously I want to take that into consideration and talk about it with my agent and see what he thinks is good. I haven't dismissed anything."
Lincecum says he isn’t sure how he’ll feel in three or five years and added that he isn’t worried about the Giants’ offense, which currently ranks last in the National League in runs scored.
When MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes previewed Lincecum’s arbitration case in May, the agents he surveyed suggested a 2012 salary in the $19-22MM range would be fair assuming a “normal season.” The 27-year-old right-hander has a 2.59 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 212 innings and though he won’t win the Cy Young Award he has set himself up for $20MM-plus in 2012 and even more in 2013. In other words, Lincecum gets as much guaranteed money going year to year as many pitchers obtain on multiyear deals in free agency.
All eyes will turn to Andre Ethier as he looks to extend his 29-game hit streak against the Mets tonight. Here’s the latest from around the NL West, including some off-field news about Ethier’s team...
- Dodgers vice-chairman Steve Soboroff insists that MLB is suffocating the Dodgers, as Yahoo's Tim Brown explains.
- D’Backs GM Kevin Towers tells Chris Jenkins of the San Diego Union-Tribune that improving Arizona’s bullpen was “paramount” when he took over before last offseason. Towers returns to San Diego, where he ran the Padres for 14 years, as an opposing GM tonight.
- Tom Verducci of SI.com argues that it makes sense for the Giants to lock Tim Lincecum up long-term, especially since the two-time Cy Young Award winner is fitter than ever.
- MLBTR's Tim Dierkes broke down Lincecum's historic arbitration case earlier this week.
The Giants avoided a historic arbitration case with ace Tim Lincecum last year, agreeing to a two-year, $23MM deal. That contract just delayed the inevitable, as Lincecum will still be arbitration eligible after the 2011 season and the Beverly Hills Sports Council client is in line for an unprecedented payday.
When you talk to agents about Lincecum's upcoming arbitration case, you hear phrases like "uncharted waters" and "lands unknown." There is no arbitration comparable; the 26-year-old already has two Cy Young awards. Said one agent, "They will use all of the free agent numbers here, including C.C. Sabathia (even if he opts out), Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay and everyone else with an impressive, cool silver and black plaque hanging in their basement. This negotiation will transcend arbitration and will be a mini free agency discussion."
The Raise Argument
All the agents I spoke to pegged Lincecum's 2012 salary in the $19-22MM range assuming he has a "normal" year. That's normal by Lincecum standards - something like last year's 3.43 ERA. That kind of season easily lends itself to an argument that Lincecum deserves much better than the $5.9MM raise Carlos Zambrano received in 2007, based on both platform year and career bulk. Lincecum is coming from a $14MM salary in 2011, so his agent Rick Thurman could demand a $7MM+ raise.
Assuming cases for pitchers such as Jered Weaver, John Danks, and Matt Garza are settled first, they could have a bearing on Lincecum. Most agents put Weaver in the $14-15MM range, but if he finds his way to $16-17MM, Lincecum's agent could argue for a bigger raise.
Another Cy Young?
Only eight pitchers have won three or more Cy Young awards, and none of them accomplished the feat by their fifth season. If Lincecum wins the award this year, he has a good case to be the highest-paid pitcher of all time. That means a salary beyond Lee's $24MM, perhaps well beyond. If Lee is worthy of five years at $24MM per, how much extra would it be worth to reduce the risk to a one-year deal? If Lincecum were a free agent after '11, coming off a Cy Young and limiting himself to a one-year deal, something like $28MM would be within reach. Multiple agents believe another Cy Young would propel Lincecum to $25MM or more for 2012.
Thinking About 2013
Lincecum is a Super Two player, meaning he's eligible for arbitration four times. If he lands a $25MM salary for 2012, the stakes would get even higher for '13. At that point even a .500 year in '12 would almost have to result in a $5MM raise, putting Lincecum at $30MM and putting the Giants in a tough spot.
Lincecum might have been earning close to $20MM this year had the Giants not signed him to a two-year deal in February of 2010. The team figures to be motivated to attempt another multiyear deal. Lincecum, having already earned more than most pitchers who sign extensions during their arbitration years, might not be looking for the maximum number of years on an extension now. How about four years $90MM - $18MM in '12, $22MM in '13, and $25MM in '14 and '15? That'd allow Lincecum to reach free agency at age 31 and go for his first $100MM deal.
If he did try to maximize the term on a new contract, Lincecum could look for eight years. No matter how you slice it, an eight-year deal would exceed Sabathia's $161MM and be the largest contract ever for a pitcher.
The 2011-12 offseason is packed with fascinating storylines, led by possible free agency for Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Jose Reyes, and Sabathia. But we may still have plenty to talk about in January and February, with all eyes on Lincecum's contract situation.
Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.