With Tim Lincecum expected to get more money in arbitration than almost any pitcher in history, the Giants have signed him to a two-year $40.5 million contract. This means that the two sides avoid going to arbitration this year and next, and Lincecum will still be a free agent after the 2013 season. Lincecum will be paid $18 million this year and $22 million in 2013.
The two-time Cy Young award winner didn’t want to sign a long-term extension, and the Giants made the right decision not signing him to a possibly $100 million contract. Pitchers are never sure things, especially an undersized one who has had problems with conditioning in the past. In August of 2010, Lincecum’s conditioning was being called into question after his fastball started to lose velocity after the first few innings. Lincecum hasn’t had any problems since, and is coming off the second best ERA of his career at 2.74 last season.
Lincecum did have a losing record for the first time in his career, though, which is more an indication of the offense than of Lincecum himself. This is the reason some are going to call for Lincecum to be traded next season. During free agency in 2013, many will expect him to leave and play for a team with a lot of money and a history of offense. As more rumors swirl about him leaving, more people will be calling for him to be traded.
This new contract tells me the Giants don’t want that. They want to win it all. With this short contract, the Giants know they have Lincecum locked up already when they try to sign Matt Cain, who is a free agent after this year. If the Giants can continue to build around the pitching staff, they should stay in contention for the next few years, at least. If they make the right moves, Lincecum and Cain will want to stay around and will sign long-term deals keeping the Giants in contention for a long time.
Trading Lincecum for prospects or any other non-superstar player would show the Giants aren’t concerned with winning right now. Instead, the G-men need to hang onto all of their big names and try to build around them. Doing this could mean success for a long time.