Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum is completing a two-year deal he signed with the team last February. He still has two more arbitration seasons with the Giants before becoming a free agent, and there is little doubt San Francisco would like to lock him up long term. But the two-time Cy Young winner says he is not interested in signing a long-term deal, even if that means turning down a potential $100 million guaranteed contract.
“I just don’t know how I’m going to feel five years from now, or three years. That’s why I’d kind of like to take things step by step and why I liked the deal I got last year,” Lincecum told the San Francisco Chronicle.
“It’s just easier for me mentally not to have to put that kind of pressure on yourself,” he said. “Not that you don’t want to succeed, but when you’re signed to a long-term deal, it’s like saying, ‘I’m going to live up to every expectation.’
There is a lot of sound reasoning to Lincecum’s explanation. One of Tim’s teammates is Barry Zito, who signed a 7-year $126 million deal in 2007. Zito hasn’t come close to pitching like an ace since signing the contract and he’s been ridiculed for failing to perform up to expectations.
If you think about guys like A.J. Burnett, John Lackey, and Zito, all of whom signed big-money contracts as pitchers, they’re foremost identified by the contract they signed. When you sign a deal like that, you’re no longer just a pitcher, but rather a $126 million pitcher. That’s a lot of pressure and it can get inside a player’s head.
At the same time, comments like this can be worrisome for Giants fans. Is this an indication that Lincecum lacks faith in the organization? Does it show a lack of commitment? Wouldn’t he be stoked about signing an extension with the team if he wanted to stay with them? Those are all reasonable questions. Maybe this is a hint that Lincecum will want to explore free agency. Maybe he’ll want to pitch for a team that has a better offense. Maybe he’ll want to return home to Washington and sign with the Mariners. I don’t know what Tim Lincecum is thinking, but I know it’s troubling for Giants fans, and I can’t blame him for taking it slowly.
Forearm bash to Hardball Talk for the tipGoogle+