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Tim Lincecum’s Future Contract

Despite my personal impression that Tim Lincecum and his agent were content to go year to year until free agency, a report surfaced recently that the pair and the Giants were open to talking about a long term contract. Lincecum’s agent opined that his client was poised to be a Super Two after this season, a reasonable assumption, and that Cole Hamels‘ recent contract could serve as a baseline for Lincecum.

Of course, Hamels’ contract didn’t buy out any of his free agent years so that makes it tough to evaluate in a context that we are used to. Furthermore, the whole nature of Super Twos throws off our 40/60/80 evaluation scheme for the percentage of market value typically awarded to players in arbitration.

Projection wise, a plurality of systems come to a pretty consistent estimate of Lincecum going forward. He was otherworldly last year for sure, but he is due for some regression in his home run rate and it would be silly to project him to toss 220+ innings each season. Essentially, the systems agree that a good median line for Lincecum is represented roughly by the half way mark between his 2007 (3.2 WAR) and 2008 (7.5 WAR) seasons, somewhere in the high 4s to mid 5s. That amount of value is worth around $20 to $25 million a year on the free market.

The main question then is to figure out what would represent a fair value for Lincecum’s arbitration years. If he were a normal player, he would have a year of club control left plus a total of 1.8 years of arbitration in free market terms. So that you can refer back if/when Lincecum does get a contract, I will present a range of fair values based on differing parameters. The weighting refer to the percentage of fair market value paid to in arbitration.

3-year contract under 20/40/60/80 weighting: $25 million
3-year contract under 30/50/70/90 weighting: $32 million
3-year contract under 40/60/80/100 weighting: $38 million

4-year contract under 20/40/60/80 weighting: $42 million
4-year contract under 30/50/70/90 weighting: $50 million
4-year contract under 40/60/80/100 weighting: $59 million

No matter what, Tim Lincecum deserves much better than Cole Hamels got out of Philadelphia.