Salary arbitration season in MLB doesn’t get fully underway until after the first of the year, but this class of players may be of more interest than most.
With the Giants’ Tim Lincecum winning back-to-back NL Cy Young awards, he will enter the salary arbitration process for the first time, most assuredly setting a record for pitchers, and possibly the highest salary arbitration figure, ever.
Word today by John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle is that Lincecum, and his agent Rick Thurman of the Beverly Hills Sports Council, will not pursue a multi-year contract, opting to get the most out of the salary arbitration system this year, and possibly in ensuing years where he would remain eligible before hitting free agency.
Lincecum is in rarified air – a Super Two – with not one, but two major awards under his belt, meaning he is a player that falls within the "exception" provision of the collective bargaining agreement. The excemption reads, in part, that the provisions defining how a the process is to use compariable players by position and Major League service time "shall not limit the ability of a Player or his representative, because of special accomplishment, to argue the equal relevance of salaries of Players without regard to service, and the arbitration panel shall give whatever weight to such argument as is deemed appropriate."
Lincecum's accomplishments mean there are no compariable players by position and service time, and that his awards, and marquee value become fair game in the salary arbitration process (all agents shall now thank Dick Moss and Fernando Valenzuela. See our Moss interview for details)
There’s been talk that "The Freak", BHSC, and the MLBPA have discussed an asking figure of $23 million, plus one-dollar. The significance of the “$1” is that it would exceed C.C. Sabathia’s salary by a buck that he will receive next season as part of his 7-year, $161 million deal with the Yankees; a record salary for a pitcher in the league.
Don’t buy into it.
The filing figure would make a statement, and makes for interesting conversation, but Lincecum would lose his case by setting the bar too high. While the MLBPA has to be tickled that while the free agency market seems destined to be depressed (again), Lincecum’s deal will push the envelope further out for the salary arbitration sphere, setting the market higher for future years.
Look for an expansive look into Tim Lincecum’s salary arbitration case shortly after the winter meetings, on The Biz of Baseball.
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Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
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