The newest fad among forward-thinking GMs has been to pay for potential rather than production. The Brewers gave Ryan Braun an eight-year, $45 million extension early in his second season, while the Rays gave Evan Longoria what could be a nine-year, $44 million deal just six days into his big league career.
With those deals in mind, locking up a guy like Tim Lincecum, who won a Cy Young award in just his second season, seems like a no-brainer. At the All-Star break this year Lincecum's agent said his client would prefer to sign a series of one-year contracts, apparently to avoid giving up any of his free agent years, but Giants fans will be happy to know that he's at least willing to consider an extension. From John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle:
"We're trying to keep our options open and not commit to anything or do anything too drastic," said Lincecum, who made $405,000 ($5,000 over the minimum) in 2008. "If it ends up working out, I mean, you don't want to be closed off to anything now."
It's always a bit risky to give any pitcher a long-term deal, but a guy like Lincecum who's accomplished so much so early might be an exception. What would it take to get a deal done? Tim from MLB Trade Rumors suggests $15 million for his arbitration years and $12 million for each free agent year, which sounds about right to me. He might end up making more in the long-run if he held out, but considering he made only $405,000 last season, it has to be tempting to cash in now.