On Tuesday, Tim Lincecum filed for arbitration, his perceived value? $13 million! This from a back to back NL Cy Young Award winner who has never made more than $700,000 in his career. The Giants have offered $8 million in arbitration. This case is going to show us just how strong the MLB Players Association really is. If there is anyone in baseball that deserves this kind of raise it’s Lincecum. I can’t imagine the Giants are going to win this case given that two years ago Ryan Howard was awarded $10 million and he only won the MVP once.
What ever Lincecum walks away with from this arbitration will be a pittance to what he is going to get on the open market when he goes into free agency in 2011. With two Cy Youngs in his first two full seasons, the open market value could reach the level of $20 million a year easy. Who ever does get him will probably have to lock him up for 6 + years. Considering how popular the young pitcher is, that might not be such a bad idea.
The question that comes up is, can he keep up this torrid pace? He is such a slight guy that it seems nearly impossible that he would be able to stay clear of injuries given his monster velocity on his small frame. There is no question that right now, he is the best pitcher in baseball. As far as his place in baseball history, it can go two ways from here either the Doc Gooden way or the Randy Johnson way. It’s impossible to speculate so early in a player’s career how he will project since there are so many stories in the history of the game of players who had amazing first three seasons, just watch as their career slides downhill.
This is going to be the make or break year for Lincecum. If he can stay close to what he has done since being called up to the majors, he would have to really be considered one of the generation’s greatest talents. If it goes south this season, then we might be looking at a long mediocre career. If you are a baseball fan though, you have to be excited, after all you might be witnessing a once in a generation talent at the peak of his game.
He remains one of the most marketable players in baseball, and even was able to shake off a citation for marijuana as a blemish on his otherwise impeccable reputation. In the hobby world, his cards rival the values of the Jeter, Pujols, and Rodriguez. His top autographed cards go for hundreds of dollars (including the one below which sits at $999.99 on eBay). Even his lower level autographed cards are hard to find for under $85. His autograph has long been the but of many jokes and remains one of the easiest signatures to forge. As his popularity grows the amount of fake signatures is going to go through the roof. However, even at his current values, I would consider his cards a bargain right now because if he continues his torrid statistical pace, his cards will undoubtedly creep higher and higher.