Compromise makes most sense for Lincecum, Giants
The whopping $5-million gap in arbitration filing figures between double-Cy Young winner
What the sides need to do now is to compromise, and to find the right multiyear deal to satisfy both sides. There is no sense going to arbitration. No sense for the Giants, who shouldn't want to beat up the game's best pitcher (if they can even figure out a way to do so, beyond the marijuana paraphernalia charge). And there's no sense risking a loss in arbitration if you're Lincecum.
Not that arbitration is out of the question for such a superstar player. The Phillies took
In the latter case, Jeter beat the Yankees, the Yankees beat Rivera, and the all lived happily ever after. But why take that chance? Not every player is as thick-skinned as Jeter and Rivera are.
The much better alternative in the case of star players is to compromise, to find middle ground on a longer deal.
Compromising on a reasonable multiyear deal brings security for the player and cost certainty for the team. It'd be good for Lincecum, and good for MLB, as well.
Baseball's powers love nothing more than to remove superstar players from arbitration because when these players win they carry the potential to blow the lid off the arbitration market. And MLB has done a superb job keeping the stars at reasonable rates early in the arbitration process.
For now, the record for a first-year arbitration-eligible pitcher is $6.25 million for
A two-year deal for Lincecum for $24 million -- $10 million for 2010 and $14 million for 2011 -- would serve everyone well.
Looking at these numbers, and this gap, it might be hard to find common ground on a one-year deal (though the midpoint seems reasonable to me, since his two Cy Young awards slightly trump Howard's Rookie of the Year and MVPs, and Howard got $10 million).
An arbitration case would be interesting indeed. Lincecum's lawyers could cite the two straight Cy Youngs, an accomplishment only done before by
The Giants could claim Lincecum's second Cy was a "fluke'' (a word I heard yesterday to describe it by a management type) in that it was basically a crapshoot between him,
You never know what might come up in arbitration. Or who might get hit. If they go, the great Howard might even take some hits in the room. Lincecum's guys could point out that Howard isn't as complete a player as he is a pitcher. (Though there's a danger in beating up Howard, especially if any of the three arbitrators also ruled on the Howard case, and doesn't want to hear that Howard's flawed in any way.)
If it comes down to arbitration, Lincecum himself definitely will take unwanted hits. That's just life in the arbitration room. Sometimes players have diminished respect for their team after sitting through an arbitration case. Occasionally, they wind up hating their own team,
Going into that room for Lincecum is too big a risk for either side. If Lincecum wins at $13 million, that sets him up for $17 million or $18 million the next year, $21 million or more the year after that, and who knows how high after that.
If he loses, while he still gets a 1,000 percent raise, he'll be set up to be underpaid (at least by double-Cy standards) for the next three years.
And if thinks he is mistreated in the hearing room, then everyone loses.
• The $78-million, five-year agreement for King Felix is a great deal --- for both sides. The Mariners have locked up one of their two co-aces for five years at an acceptable rate. Some might suggest Hernandez should wait two years, and shoot for the $150-million deal. But if you're Hernandez, how can you turn this down? He made just $3.8 million last year, and this deal is worth 30 times that. Plus, being that he's 23, he'll still be a free agent at only 28.
• The Mets' hardball tactic worked out fine with
• The Rays, Marlins and Nationals have a policy that once figures are filed, there will be no compromising on a one-year deal and that they will go into a hearing room, barring a multiyear agreement. The policy puts pressure on players to settle so there's some logic behind it. But when you have a situation where Marlins outfielder