It's that time of the MLB off-season again. Arbitration-eligible players have either avoided arbitration with their teams by agreeing to a contract, or are preparing to have their cases heard and settled by an arbiter. The biggest name still out there this off-season would be San Francisco Giants ace Tim Lincecum.
Two and a half seasons pitched, 2 Cy Young awards, and he's only 25 years of age. I'm not going to write what Lincecum's true value is or how much he deserves to be paid, but I will say that if the Giants want to keep Lincecum as far away from the free agent market as they can, once he is eligible, they need to avoid arbitration.
Arbitration is a very sticky situation. Things will be said in that courtroom that CANNOT be taken back. Its an inevitable part of these hearings; teams will bring up any possible dirt they have on a player in order to win the case.
Former major league first-baseman Sean Casey recently said on MLB Network's "Hot Stove" that the arbitration hearing was both shocking and intense. He had a very good relationship with the Reds' front office prior to the hearing, but once the hearing began, a barrage of flaws and negative comments were fired at Casey, catching him off guard. Casey ultimately won his case, but he had never experienced anything like it before, recounting that he "sweated profusely throughout the entire hearing."
The two biggest knocks on Lincecum will be that he doesn't possess enough of a track record to warrant $13 million and that due to his violent delivery, the potential for injury is very high. Whether the Giants have more information on why they should win their case or not, they need to be extremely careful with what they say.
With such a high-profile and high-ceiling player such as Lincecum, the Giants can ill-afford to cross any unnecessary lines and burn any bridges between the two. With the Giants franchise player in line for a huge raise, the Giants must get a deal done before they are forced to say anything they may regret in the not so distant future.
This is a "freak" show that everyone will be watching.