The market for top notch starting pitching can be difficult to navigate. With a scarcity of true ace pitching, a pitcher that could potentially headline a rotation, or has recently been able to have been considered a top starter, may receive more than expected.
That scarcity may partially explain the contract extension that Tim Lincecum received. After signing a two year, $40million deal after the 2011 season, Lincecum put together the two worst seasons of his career. Despite showing flashes of his former brilliance, including a no-hitter against the Padres, Lincecum was a combined 20-29 with a 4.76 ERA. His velocity on his fastball has declined by over two miles per hour, as Lincecum has just not been the same pitcher. Yet, the promise of his past performance, and the brief flashes of his past brilliance, was enough where he received another two year deal, this time valued at $35million.
Lincecum’s contract extension may have repercussions beyond what it means for the Giants, however. With the Rays potentially finding themselves at a point where they may need to trade David Price due to salary and payroll concerns, any extension that could possibly be discussed would have to consider similar pitchers. As it happens, according to Baseball-Reference, the pitcher Lincecum was most similar to at age 26 and 27 is none other than Price.
Heading into his second arbitration hearing, Price may find another parallel with Lincecum. As Price is going to receive a raise from his just over $10million salary this season, Lincecum’s $14million salary from his second arbitration hearing may be close to what Price receives.
Would the Rays be willing to spend that much to keep Price in the fold? They simply may not be able to. With nine other players arbitration eligible, including Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Joyce, there may not be enough money to go around for the Rays to retain Price and keep the majority of the team together.
David Price has been quite similar to Tim Lincecum over his age 26 and 27 seasons. It may end up where they both find themselves with a similar cost as well.