Yahoo!’s Tim Brown reports that Tim Lincecum’s agents could file a $23 million arbitration figure if the Giants don’t come to their freakin’ senses and buy out the guy’s arbitration years.
$23 million would dwarf the previous largest request — Derek Jeter asked for $18.5 million in 2001 before settling on a ten-year contract. The largest ever award to a guy with low service time like Lincecum was $10 million to Ryan Howard. Personally, I can’t see the Giants even submitting anything as low as $10 million as their arbitration number (remember: the arbitrators have to pick either the player’s number or the team’s number; they can’t split the difference). He has already accomplished more than Ryan Howard did at this point in his career, and there is a good argument that there is no better pitcher in the game than the guy. Against that backdrop, it strikes me that the Giants would have to submit at least $10 million in order to not insult the arbitrators’ intelligence.
That said, I don’t think that the arbitrators would actually award $23 million. The process is defined by the search for comparables with a healthy dose of service time analysis, and while there certainly isn’t a comparable pitcher in terms of quality to Lincecum, there isn’t a comparable salary anywhere close to that either. CC Sabathia makes that and he has eight years under his belt. The arbitrators would certainly balk at just erasing nearly seven years of service time.
But clearly, Timmy is gonna get paid. If the Giants move now and make a long term offer, they can make that paycheck (relatively) low on the front end, and allow it to grow as Aaron Rowand’s and Edgar Renteria’s contracts fall off the books in the next couple of years. With a talent like Lincecum’s, it seems like the smarter play than gambling with the arbitrators.