Tim Lincecum is going to get paid this winter. Whether or not the San Francisco Giants let arbitration determine Lincecum's 2012 salary, the two-time Cy Young winner will make almost $20 million next season. The only question is whether or not he can break even that lofty barrier.
Well, not the only question. One other looms large as the Giants and Lincecum prepare to attempt to return to the World Series after winning it in 2010: Will Lincecum sign a long-term extension, or will he be on his way to free agency by Opening Day?
The new vogue in baseball involves locking up superstar players before they reach free agency, avoiding the risk of losing that guy to some other club. Some players are amenable to long-term commitments, as long as they hit the jackpot in the process. Some, such as Lincecum thus far, resist the urge and embrace the risky but rich journey through arbitration on a year-to-year basis.
And Lincecum is not alone in this odd sort of secondary free-agent market. These players are not truly free; they are tied to their teams, at least through next year, and cannot auction themselves to the highest bidder. Yet, the mere specter of losing them is sufficient motivation for some teams to pull the trigger on mega-deals normally reserved for those free agents.
Here are 10 elite players who could make huge money that way this winter.