San Francisco’s ace has arguably been the face of the franchise and most important player over the past few seasons.
The Giants built a championship team around their pitching staff in 2010. The same staff allowed them to stay in contention for most of this season, despite arguably the worst offense in the league.
A disappointing 2011 for San Francisco establishes a dire need to bolster the offense, which will be an important task this winter. However, the results also point out just how good their pitching really is.
Tim Lincecum leads the staff with a 2.74 ERA, ranking fourth in the NL and is third in the league in strikeouts.
Despite another successful season, the 27-year-old right-hander will finish 13-14 this year. He made his final start of the season against the 2011 NL West champion Arizona Diamondbacks, in an failed effort to finish another quality season with out a losing record.
Lincecum is eligible for arbitration until he is a free agent at the end of the 2013 season. He has made statements indicating that he prefers the idea of a short-term deal. However, San Francisco knows how important their “Freak” is and should want to lock him down to a long-term contract.
Here are four ways the Giants can keep the two-time Cy Young winner their ace for the long run.
The Giants paid Lincecum $23 million over the past two years, and arbitration calls for them to increase that price if they are to sign him for the next two.
Lincecum told Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle that he would actually be in favor of such an offer. However, the Beverly Hills Sports Council client will likely be advised to seek a bigger raise.
San Francisco’s front office could make him choose between two offers, a big, long-term contract or a minimal, short-term stint.
Lincecum may prefer a safer, less lucrative offer. However, he may be pushed in the other direction by his agent.
Lincecum’s achievements and continued dominance are deserving of a big payoff. Both parties know how important the ace is to the future of this team.
He will be key in capitalizing on a window of opportunity in which the Giants were already able to capture one world championship.
While San Francisco has a lot to address this offseason, they know that a good portion of their earnings should go towards locking down their ace.
When asked about a long-term deal, Lincecum reasoned against it."It's just easier for me mentally not to have to put that kind of pressure on yourself."
The Giants front office could use this information to their advantage by presenting a big time contract despite his hesitance toward the idea. This move could give Lincecum the confidence boost he needs to accept the money and live up to a serious extension.
Cliff Lee proved that modesty still exists in this age of superstars when he signed with Philadelphia to a less lucrative deal and a real chance to make history.
Financial security is not an issue for Lincecum who has well established himself as one of the top hurlers in the game. The front office should approach him with an offer that extends him several years into free agency which would otherwise begin after 2013.
However, they don’t need to break the bank to do it. A long-term offer wont be cheap, so the Giants’ superstar wont be underpaid. San Francisco should offer Lincecum a five-year deal for the minimum year-to-year cost.
This compromise would be ideal. If they can come to terms, it will let Lincecum put to rest any nightmares of becoming the next hundred million dollar player to warm the bench and give San Francisco some payroll wiggle room.
The bottom line is that this club knows they need to secure the two-time Cy Young award winner for the long run.
Lincecum’s reasoning for short-term contract preference has not been attributed to worry that he won’t want to come back San Francisco in years to come. He also made surprisingly clear that it was not the lack of offense that has determined his record or gave him hesitation.
The front office needs to be aggressive in approaching their star. Efforts to resign Tim Lincecum to a long-term contract need to show him that the organization is confident that he will be able to live up to an extension.
While a combination of short-term negotiations may be ideal for Lincecum, the team is best suited to sign him long term. This will keep the coveted arm in their possession for coming years and allow the front office to allocate the rest of their payroll accordingly.
Lincecum himself told Schulman this, “"It all depends on how they come after me," he said. "If it's aggressive, obviously I want to take that into consideration and talk about it with my agent and see what he thinks is good. I haven't dismissed anything."