Buster Olney quotes some baseball official worrying about Tim Lincecum’s arbitration. Specifically, he worries about the “precedent” a $13 million award could set. That word he keeps using; I do not think it means what he thinks it means:
There is a lot of sentiment within other organizations for the
Giants to settle the case, because of what could happen if San
Francisco loses the decision, and creates precedent for a player with
three years of service time to make $13 million.
“You can make a
strong case based on precedent and still easily lose this,” said one
official. “[Lincecum’s] record is flawless, and he will be asking for
special consideration — and he could get it. They need to settle this.”
Given that Tim Lincecum is an unprecedented talent at his age and service time, what, exactly, is the problem with him winning an unprecedented award in arbitration? If the system is working like it should, that’s exactly what he should receive.
Put differently: baseball officials should only worry about Tim Lincecum’s
award setting a precedent of $13 million to third year players if
those players are otherworldly talents with multiple major awards like
Tim Lincecum. Last I checked there aren’t a ton of dudes like that.
Unless, of course, all the baseball official is worried about is paying a lot of money to great players in an absolute sense, in which case he’s just a management hack.