Tim Lincecum avoided arbitration with a
2-year, $23 million deal on Friday. But,
did the Giants ultimatly come out ahead?
By nearly every account, Tim Lincecum appeared headed for a salary arbitration hearing. His case, one of the strongest in recent memory due to his $13 million filing figure, would have set more than a few records for salary arbitration, if he had won.
But this morning, just outside the room where his case would be made before a panel of three arbitrators, the hearing was delayed, and a two-year, $23 million deal was reached, and therefore, salary arbitration history will have to wait for another day.
The total dollars and the structure of the deal make for a bit of head scratching.
Here’s how the deal shakes out:
Lincecum will receive $8 million this season, $13 million in 2011 plus $2 million in signing bonus money ($1 million each year). In doing so, the Giants buy out two of Linceum’s four years of salary arbitration eligibility.
According to Buster Olney, in addition to his salary, he would earn $200,000 for pitching 225 innings, a figure he reached in each of his two full seasons. He would get $500,000 for each Cy Young Award, $250,000 for second, $100,000 for third, $75,000 for fourth and $50,000 for fifth.
He also would get $100,000 each time he's an All-Star, $100,000 for NL MVP, $75,000 for World Series MVP and $50,000 for League Championship Series MVP.
Looking back at what figures were filled, excluding the bonus money, the Giants get a win on paper as the $8 million for 2010 is exactly what they offered Lincecum through the salary arbitration filing process. If we throw in the $1 million he will receive in bonus money, he’s still $1.5 million below the $10.5 million mid-point between the Giants offering figure and Lincecum’s $13 million asking figure.
If you want to split hairs, if you roll the $2 million signing bonus in with the $8 million base salary, it would match Ryan Howard’s record $10 million award he received by winning his case in 2008 with the Phillies as a first time salary arbitration eligible player.
That’s little consolation as Lincecum is a back-to-back Cy Young winner, where Howard was a one-time MVP winner at the time. And, the $8 million base figure for Lincecum will be the focus in future salary arbitration cases.
Into this discussion there is the three-year, $37 million offer that was reportedly made by the Giants over the last few days. In that deal, Lincecum would have seen annual salaries of $9.5 million, $12.5 million and $15 million; no word on whether there was ever talk of a bonus.
If not, Lincecum will now earn $500,000 less this year than the deal that was on the table, and $1.5 million more in 2011 with the bonus thrown in. But, one wonders, if Lincecum keeps at the pace he has the last two seasons just how big of a win this is for the Giants?
If there’s a flipside, it’s this: Lincecum’s $8 million is the highest salary ever awarded a first time salary arbitration pitcher, surpassing Jonathan Papelbon’s $6.2 million he reached last year with the Red Sox. Also, if he performs at the level he has the past two seasons, he stands to gain considerably through contract incentives.
There is the fact that the two year deal sees guaranteed money in the mix. Lincecum’s back goes south? He gets his money this year and next. He also will get two more shots at salary arbitration, and who knows? Maybe there will be another multi-year deal in the works.
But, given how heavily weighted Lincecum’s numbers were, you have to wonder what would have happened at hearing. It’s possible the money itself got in the way. That even though the $13 million figure appeared to be low compared to Howard’s $10 million award, it's possible Lincecum and his representative Rick Thurman of the Beverly Hills Sports Council saw that a $3 million increase for a Super Two player was risky.
Finally, while there is nothing that holds the sides to the mid-point figure between asking and offering, you have to take stock of what the outcome would have been like if sides met close to the middle. Lincecum would be making $2.5 million more than he will this season, and we’ll be left to ponder what might have been in salary arbitration for The Freak in 2011. It looks like 2012 will be the next time Lincecum plays the salary arbitration game. Between now and then, Lincecum will see a salary increase of 1131 percent from the $650,000 he made last season, and a 63 percent raise from his $8 million base salary this year, and the $13 million for 2011.
YAHOO! SPORTS ARTICLES ON SALARY ARBITRATION:
Inside a Tim Lincecum arbitration hearing - 2/10/10
Salary arbitration: Battle of the midpoint – 1/26/10
Evolution of salary arbitration: an ironic tale – 1/19/10
RESOURCES FOR SALARY ARBITRATION
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
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