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Who benefits more from Tim Lincecum’s new two-year deal with Giants?

Ian Casselberry
Big League Stew

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Despite a 2.74 ERA last season, Tim Lincecum finished with a 13-14 record for the San Francisco Giants. (US Pr …

Yes, something else happened in baseball on Tuesday besides Prince Fielder and the Detroit Tigers joining forces to shock the world to the tune of $214 million.

On any other day, Tim Lincecum and the San Francisco Giants would've been the top story. The two sides agreed to a two-year, $40.2 million contract, which buys out Lincecum's final two years of arbitration eligibility. He'll become a free agent after the 2013 season.

Lincecum was looking at a sweet raise, regardless of how the arbitration process worked out for him.

Last week, he asked for a $21.5 million salary for 2012, the most ever requested by a player with less than six years of service time. The Giants countered with a $17 million contract offer that was the highest ever offered by a team since salary arbitration was instituted in 1974. And oh, by the way, it would've given Lincecum a $4 million raise.

So this is a win for both sides, right? Well, yes and no.

Lincecum did get a significant raise and still faces a big potential free-agent payday when this contract runs out in two years. However, as the San Francisco Chronicle's Henry Schulman points out, Lincecum is also taking a big risk by not agreeing to a longer-term contract. What if he gets hurt at some point over the next two years? What if he just doesn't pitch as well as he has over the previous five seasons? Either — or both — could end up costing him money.

The Giants probably saved some money over the next two years by avoiding arbitration with Lincecum. But they weren't able to lock down their best pitcher long-term and could lose him to free agency after 2013. However, this does give the team two years to determine whether Lincecum is worth a long-term investment or someone who's already had his best years and appears to be on the decline.

If a good negotiation is one in which both sides had to give up something in the deal, then this agreement looks pretty good. Besides, there's no rule that says the Giants and Lincecum can't work out a contract extension between now and the end of the 2013 season. This could still be just another step toward a long relationship.

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