MILWAUKEE -- The San Francisco Giants have been quiet so far this winter, but rather than chase free agents their biggest goal at present appears to be to lock up superstar pitcher Tim Lincecum. The Giants will make an attempt to sign the two-time Cy Young winner to a multi-year deal, according to people familiar with their thinking.
The Giants are believed interested in a deal of at least four years -- which would include two free agent years -- and perhaps more. However, Lincecum, 27, has indicated a willingness to go year-to-year. So there's far from a guarantee the Giants can repeat the recent success of their rival Dodgers, who just agreed to terms with their superstar outfielder Matt Kemp on a eight-year, $160-million deal.
Giants people are saying publicly that pitching remains their priority, and it is becoming clear that Lincecum is at the top of their agenda. The team is also interested in signing fellow All-Star righty Matt Cain to an extension, but while he can become a free agent after 2012 and Lincecum has to wait one more year, the focus seems to be as much or more on Lincecum now. Lincecum, a three-time strikeout champion, is the bigger star, and perhaps Cain may be seen as less of a threat to leave based on past dealings with him.
There's zero evidece the Giants would consider trading either Lincecum or Cain. One AL GM said he wouldn't even waste his time and ask.
Lincecum just finished a $23-million, two-year deal in which he made $14 million in 2011 (counting the $1 million bonus paid that year) and will surely break an arbitration record if it gets to that point this winter. Some see his agents at Beverly Hills Sports Council, who've had arbitration successes (Dan Uggla, Hunter Pence) filing at as high as $25 million. Lincecum could approach $20 million through that process, which would easily be a record. What's even trickier for the Giants is that Lincecum actually has two years of arbitration left, meaning he could break the bank in a 2013 arbitration case if he keeps succeeding at his current pace.
The Giants acquired centerfielder Melky Cabrera to enhance their offense and are looking at possibly adding either a shortstop, first baseman or another outfielder. But they aren't currently considering runs at either star free agent shortstop, Jose Reyes or Jimmy Rollins, the latter of whom is from the Bay Area. That's likely because the focus is on Lincecum. They are also hoping for successful comebacks from catcher Buster Posey and second baseman Freddy Sanchez, two professional hitters who were injured for much of last year.