I saw an article by Jim Bowden of ESPN about players that teams need to sign to extensions. He left off a very big one, our own Tim Lincecum.
Lincecum is signed through 2013. In 2014 he will become a free agent.
The Giants have been doing a good job of holding onto their star pitchers for the long term. They signed Matt Cain to his second extension recently and followed that up by surprising everyone by signing Madison Bumgarner to an extension that buys out his first year of free agency. The surprising thing about it is that at 11.5 million, Bumgarner sold low on his first free agent year. Mad Bum could be the best of the Giants' big three in the long run. In essence, the Giants bought out his first three years of free agency, with affordable club options of 12 million in 2018 and 2019. If I was Bumgarner's agent I wouldn't have even thought of making that deal. Good thing for the Giants he did.
But the Giants haven't been successful in locking up Big Time Timmy Jim, despite their best efforts.
The Giants need to act now and they have the money to spend. First, they saved a big chunk of money on Bumgarner and have cost certainty with him and Cain. Second, they have a whole lot of money coming off the books after this year with even more coming off in 2014 (can you say Barry Zito?).
Between Zito, Aubrey Huff, Brian Wilson, Melky Cabrera, Freddy Sanchez, Angel Pagan, Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez they will potentially save just south of 60 million dollars a year. Of that group, only Cabrera, Wilson and Lopez have much of a chance to stay. Pagan will no doubt be replaced by a much cheaper option (prospect Gary Brown) and Cabrera could be a one hit wonder with some of the other outfield prospects on the horizon, such as Roger Kieschnick, whose OPS after 25 games at Triple-A Fresno this season is 1.082. In fact, Kieschnick could get the call soon, with the Giants needing more pop off the bench.
Wilson is more and more looking like he will be elsewhere after his latest TJ surgery and Lopez may not be resigned after his current contract is up in 2013. Keep in mind, Heath Hembree is likely to be a Giant any day now with his 100 MPH fastball.
Besides having the money to spend, there is another very good reason to lock up The Freak. You may have heard that the hated Los Angeles Dodgers, who are off to a great start this season, have new ownership. These guys paid 2.15 billion for the club and are expected to spend big the next couple of off seasons. I know the thought sickens you just like it does me, but they will most definitely be in the running for top free agents and Lincecum certainly qualifies. Imagine a big three of Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley and yes, Tim Lincecum. Now that would absolutely suck, wouldn't it?
But if the Giants wait, not only will Lincecum get much more expensive after this season, but the Giants could get into the same kind of situation the Cardinals did with Albert Pujols, to the point of no return. If this goes too long, Lincecum will no doubt be advised by his agent to test the free agent waters. And the waters will be warm indeed. Count on the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox, the Chicago Cubs, the New York Mets and yes, the hated blue slime, the Los Angeles Dodgers and every other big money and big market team to be all-in on Lincecum. If it goes that far the price could get to the point where it just doesn't make sense for the Giants to sign Lincecum and yes, everyone's worst fear could come to pass. Lincecum could become a Dodger.
If this happened, the Giants would no doubt be looking up at the Dodgers for some years to come.
So the time is now for the Giants to act. Sign Tim Lincecum to a deal in the range of six years and 150 - 160 million dollars. The money is there and the time is right. Otherwise, we all may be very sorry as Lincecum takes the field on Opening Day 2014 wearing Dodger blue.