Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Lincecum Arbitration Case

By age 25, only one pitcher not named Tim Lincecum had collected more hardware.  By age 25, Roger Clemens had earned two Cy Youngs and a league MVP award.  Lincecum earned his second Cy Young award in 2009 and will likely take his hardware with him to an arbitration hearing this winter in an effort to try to earn a raise from his $650,000 a year salary.  For those unfamiliar with baseball's basic compensation structure, a player is under team control for six years.  The first three are years in which the player is not eligible for arbitration, the so-called "pre-arb" years.  In the pre-arb years, the team can basically renew the player for a minimal salary.  After those three years, the player becomes eligible for arbitration.  A team submits what it thinks the player is worth, the player's agent does the same and the arbitrator picks one of the two numbers.  There's a good chance the player and team avoid arbitration by signing a deal before the hearing is set to begin. 

In the arbitration system, both sides seek to compare the player to what it thinks are comparable players.  With Lincecum, who is his modern day contemporary?  There is no one as good and as young as he is.  For that reason, I expect Lincecum's side to ask for a ridiculous amount of money.  It's hard to argue that he doesn't deserve it.  In his career, he's 40-17 with an ERA under 3.00 and 676 strikeouts in 598.2 innings.  That's a 25 year old.  Since Felix Hernandez just signed a new contract, there's a good chance that comes into play when arguing over Lincecum's next deal.  Hernandez, however, doesn't have any Cy Youngs. 

When Clemens was 25, he made $1.35 million.  I fully expect Lincecum to make around $10 million, but I also think the case won't reach arbitration and it will be settled before numbers are exchanged. 

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Astronomy said...

Lincecum is a super star, but the way baseball is, you don't make the big bucks at his age. That's just the way it is, across the board. Players, the Union, and management agreed long ago to set it up that way because that is the way they want it, and there's no way around it. If Lincecum wants to cash in, he will have to stay healthy and keep pitching at an elite level for another few years.