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MLB Free Agency 2014: Tim Lincecum and 5 Other Contract-Year Disasters

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MLB Free Agency 2014: Tim Lincecum and 5 Other Contract-Year Disasters
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Lincecum's two-year decline has likely cost him more money than most good baseball players will make in their career.

Barring a complete turnaround in the second half of the season, the value of Tim Lincecum's first free-agent contract will be nowhere near what it would've been after the 2011 season (2.74 ERA, 217 IP, 176 H, 3.6 BB/9, 9.1 K/9 in 33 starts). His 2011 walk and strikeout rates weren't quite as good as the previous three seasons, which included two Cy Young Awards, but his overall numbers were solid, and he was still considered one of the best starting pitchers in the game.

Over his past 45 starts since the start of the 2012 season, though, the rest of Lincecum's peripheral stats have become less impressive across the board. The most alarming number, however, might be his 38 percent quality start (at least 6 IP, 3 ER or less) rate after posting a 73 percent rate in his first 155 big league starts.

The 28-year-old is as inconsistent and unpredictable as any starter in the league, which doesn't bode well for his chances of a team committing multiple years and big money. Recent talk of Lincecum moving to the bullpen is overblown because of the Giants' current lack of options and the likelihood that whichever team signs him this winter will want to at least see if he can be a dominant starter again.

Given his age and resume, Lincecum could still get a decent contract even if he continues with his roller coaster trend of good and bad starts. But a one-year deal would be less risky for a team and would allow Lincecum a chance to rebuild his value if he bounces back. My guess is that he loses out on what could've been an estimated eight-year, $200 million contract and settles on a one-year, $14 million deal for 2014. 

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