January 19, 2010

Tim Lincecum is asking for a record $13 million in arbitration from the San Francisco Giants while the team is countering with an $8 million offer, SI.com has learned.

Lincecum, 25, won his second straight National League Cy Young award in 2009 after going 15-7 with a 2.48 ERA while leading the league in complete games (4), shutouts (2) and strikeouts (248) in 225 1/3 innings.

If Lincecum and the Giants are unable to reach a settlement, an arbitration panel will pick one of the salaries during a hearing to be held in February. The highest salary ever awarded in arbitration is the $10 million Ryan Howard of the Philadlephia Phillies got after the 2006 season.

Lincecum is seeking the richest contract ever awarded in arbitration, surpassing the $10 million that Alfonso Soriano (2006) and Francisco Rodriguez (2008) got after losing cases and Ryan Howard got after winning his in 2008.

Few players have gone into arbitration boasting such credentials as Lincecum, who has been the NL's most dominant pitcher almost from his arrival early in the 2007 season. Since that time, he has a 40-17 record with a 2.90 ERA.

He has a 33-12 record with a 2.55 ERA the past two seasons, leading the league in strikeouts both years. He has 526 strikeouts during that span, averaging 10.5 per nine innings.

Lincecum also leads the majors in ERA, batting average against (.214), winning percentage (.733) and strikeouts over the past two seasons.

He won the Cy Young in his first two full seasons, becoming the first repeat winner since Randy Johnson from 1999-2002. Lincecum was a bargain for the Giants last year, when he made $650,000.

He had no negotiating leverage then, but is guaranteed to increase his salary by more than twelvefold even if he loses his case because he is eligible for arbitration as a so-called "Super 2" -- a player in the top 17 percent of service time between two and three seasons.

Lincecum's case could be most similar to Howard, whose $10 million request in 2008 had been the highest ever for a player in his first year eligible for arbitration. Howard won the NL MVP in 2006 when he led the league with 58 home runs and followed that with 47 homers in 2007. The Phillies offered $7 million.

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