No pitcher has mattered more to the success of the San Francisco Giants franchise than two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum. He was awarded a two-year, $40.5 million through arbitration before the 2012 season, which was about on par with his performance at the time.
Now? Not so much. Lincecum is coming toward the end of a $22 million season that did not equate his value on the mound. So, the Giants front office needs to use this final month do determine exactly how much it is willing to spend to bring back “The Freak.”
Much of this is up to Lincecum, as well. The 29-year-old, who despite showing brilliance of his Cy Young seasons in some of his starts, has a 8-13 record in 2013 with a 4.38 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. He has been good enough to throw a no-hitter, and atrotious enough to allow eight earned runs in 3.2 IP. Those two lines, ironically enough, came in consecutive outings.
This perfectly describes the difficulty Sabean will have in deciding contract terms for a potential re-signing of Lincecum. He’ll go out and have a stellar game, like the one he pitched Saturday in Arizona, resulting in fans deeming that Lincecum is “back.” Another start, Lincecum may leave the mound in a downpour of booing.
It’s pretty clear that the majority of Giants fans want Lincecum back. It may stem from the fear of seeing a beloved Giant in another uniform, but GM Brian Sabean has given the fans what they want in the past. With Lincecum, it should be no different.
So, how much do the Giants pay him? They overpaid him once before — they shouldn’t do it again, especially with the erratic season Lincecum has displayed in 2013. My guess: the organization is able to re-sign him for around $10 million per year. How many years is up for discussion, but I believe the front office wants him back for at least another season in black and orange — if not simply for the marketing strategies.
It’s difficult to tell yet which teams may court Lincecum in the winter. It’s difficult to even say if Lincecum is devoted to staying a Giant — he repeatedly has gone on record saying he prefers short-term contracts because they come with less pressure.
From 2007-2011, Lincecum posted a 69-41 record, a 2.98 ERA, a 1.188 WHIP and eight complete games in 1,028 IP. Since the start of the 2012 campaign, however, he has gone 11-16 with a ERA of 4.80. The Giants need to rigorously contemplate the vector of Lincecum’s career before giving him a lucrative contract.
Lincecum was once worth the $22 million he is making in 2013, maybe even more. But just how much is he worth now? How much will he be worth next season, and for seasons to come? That’s for Sabean to determine.