Tim Lincecum isn't set to become a free agent for another two years. That's good news, for the Giants. Tim Lincecum is eligible for arbitration in the meantime. That's worse news, for the Giants. Because the Giants are going to have to pay Tim Lincecum an awful lot of money.
Lincecum just wrapped up a two-year, $23 million contract he signed in February 2010. The Giants are trying to sign him to a longer-term contract. Lincecum is looking for a shorter-term contract. For now, both sides had to submit arbitration figures before Tuesday's deadline. The figures are in, and the figures are big:
Tim files at $21.5M, giants at $17M
Lincecum had a $13 million base salary in 2011, so the Giants are offering him a substantial raise. Lincecum is seeking a more substantial raise. As a matter of fact, Lincecum's request is the biggest request ever for a player with fewer than six years of playing time. Previously, the biggest request belonged to Derek Jeter in 2001, when he asked for $18.5 million. When you account for inflation, Jeter's request is bigger, but who ever accounts for inflation in these things? That would be too sciencey and accurate.
If this goes all the way to arbitration in February, an arbitrator will hear arguments from both sides and choose a salary of either $17 million or $21.5 million. Either/or, no in-between. It may not get there, though - Lincecum and the Giants can continue to negotiate, and they could agree to a settlement or a multi-year contract. That two-year deal Lincecum just finished was agreed to shortly before a hearing.