The words "sizable gap" were scattered around the baseball world this past week when it came to the San Francisco Giants and Tim Lincecum.
Those are definitely not the words Giants fans want to hear when talking about their team in contract talks with their pride and joy, long-haired magician on the mound.
Reportedly, the Giants offered Lincecum $80 million for four years over the summer, and that offer has been upped in recent weeks. However, Lincecum has been adamant in his stance on wanting an eight-year contract and getting paid. It would be the first substantial payday of his MLB career, after making just $650,000 per year the first four years and a little over $11 million per year since these past two.
Lincecum, who will be a free agent after the 2013 season, reportedly wants loyalty in the form of a large sum of money for a large number of years, and it seems it does not necessarily have to be from the Giants.
The last time San Francisco gave a big-time contract to a pitcher was Barry Zito for seven years and $126 million. You can understand the hesitation of the Giants' part.
But Lincecum is different, right?
A two-time Cy Young Award winner and World Series Champion has to mean something to the Giants franchise. However, a contract like Zito's sticks with a ballclub, the general manager that made it and the fanbase surrounding it, no matter how different these players are.
The problem here is not the eight years, although that number is large for a 5'10", 165 lbs. pitcher with an unorthodox motion to the plate. The problem is the risk of failure, and given the information in the previous sentence, that risk may be growing higher every year they give Lincecum that paycheck.
With that said, eight years is a large risk for a GM like Sabean, who still wears the $18 million per year to Zito, and the Giants franchise that cannot afford to miss or risk setting their ballclub back several years.
In any case, this potentially leaves the Giants with two options if eight years is too much: Trade Lincecum or hope he agrees to accept short-term deals of no more than two years.
The trade could give the Giants much-needed prospects or much-needed hitters, and the short-term deal could buy both Lincecum and the Giants time, as well as involve less risk for the franchise.
Who knows what the most likely scenario is now?
For the Giants, a trade may be the safest.
It rids the Giants of a very possible plunge if Lincecum goes down with injury, which many baseball minds believe could happen any season now given his calculated, yet unorthodox, motion to the plate and including his small, yet powerful, frame. Baseball scouts say it does not add up, and an eight-year contract may lead the Giants' decision-makers to think the same.
You give an eight-year contract to a fully-built workhorse, not a small-framed pothead, right?
San Francisco has a decision to make between Lincecum and fellow starter Matt Cain. Do they sign one or both?
Lincecum's recent actions may have them leaning towards settling for Cain and risking less by potentially acquiring more and dealing Lincecum this season.