Tim Lincecum, Still Not a Mariner
If there was one thing that felt absolutely inevitable, it’s that we were in for weeks and maybe months of Tim Lincecum to Seattle rumors. People in Seattle, maybe more than any other MLB city, absolutely yearn for every kid with anything close to a local tie to end up in a Mariners uniform. Lincecum was a star at the University of Washington, and a lot of people are still upset the Mariners passed on him in favor of Brandon Morrow way back when. Finally free to make his own choice about where to live and work, it seemed like Seattle would be high on his list of choices. And the Mariners, even with Taijuan Walker and James Paxton hanging around, need to improve their rotation. It seemed like a match made in Obvious Heaven.
Tim Lincecum cares not for the narrative, apparently. Today, before testing the free agent waters, he re-signed with the Giants for another two years. Why would he do that, you might ask? Because the Giants gave him $17.5 million per year and a full no-trade clause in order to stick around.
Yes, Tim Lincecum, coming off a couple of years of near replacement level performance if judging by runs allowed, was just guaranteed $35 million for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. A pitcher thought to be perhaps an interesting buy low candidate for teams looking for value instead turned out to be a pitcher who was in line for 70% of Felix Hernandez’s annual salary. Tim Lincecum will get more money next year than Hisashi Iwakuma will get from the Mariners for his first three seasons with the team. There is no buying low here. The Giants are paying Lincecum as if he’s just been humming along as a high quality pitcher with no real bumps in the road, at least in terms of annual salary. Without the bumps he’s actually hit, he’d have gotten this kind of salary for 5+ years, so the discount came in settling for just two.
But, still, there’s no way the Mariners should have been interested at this price. I wrote today over at FanGraphs that there was little difference between Lincecum and Dan Haren, who is expected to sign for something in the range of about half of what Lincecum just got. Today’s deal for Lincecum almost certainly upwardly revises the asking price for Haren, but he’s still not likely to get anything near this kind of deal, and the Giants may have just saved the Mariners from getting guilted into making an overly large commitment for a pitcher with some real warts.
So, yeah, no Tim Lincecum in Seattle. At $35 million for two years, I think we can consider that good news.