SAN FRANCISCO -- The most recognizable pitcher in Giants history will toe the rubber at AT&T Park for at least two more seasons.
The Giants and right-hander Tim Lincecum agreed to a two-year, $35 million deal Tuesday, pending a physical. A two-time Cy Young Award winner, Lincecum was days away from becoming a free agent for the first time but bypassed that process to re-sign with the organization that drafted him 10th overall in 2006. In seven seasons with the Giants, Lincecum, 29, has been a key contributor to two championship clubs.
"Timmy has had tremendous success with the Giants, and the Giants have had tremendous success with him," assistant general manager Bobby Evans said. "It was important that we were able to keep the big three together, with (Matt) Cain, (Madison) Bumgarner and Lincecum. When we did our overall analysis of him, it was very evident that Timmy was still a very strong part of the staff."
Lincecum was 10-14 with a 4.37 ERA last season, but advanced metrics show that Lincecum outperformed those numbers. He ranked 11th in the league in strikeouts per nine innings (8.79) and continued to show the kind of durability that the Giants value. Lincecum threw 1972/3 innings last season and has made at least 32 starts in each of his six full seasons in the big leagues. He threw a 148-pitch no-hitter July 13 at San Diego.
Lincecum no longer has the fastball that sits in the upper 90s, but he adjusted his approach last season, steadying his mechanics and increasing the amount of hitter analysis he did between starts.
"I feel like I've got some upside," he said in September. "I've been willing to make some changes, and I don't feel like I've gotten anywhere near where I feel I should be."
Lincecum is 89-70 with a 3.46 ERA in his career and is just the fourth San Francisco Giant to record double-digit wins in six consecutive seasons. Only Tom Seaver and Bert Blyleven struck out more batters through their first seven seasons than Lincecum's 1,510.
Faced with the prospect of entering the offseason with three holes in their rotation, the Giants met Lincecum's price Tuesday. For the carefree right-hander, the length of the deal may have been just as important. Lincecum turned down a five-year, $100 million deal before the 2012 season and now has signed three consecutive two-year deals, a rarity in this age. For the Giants, Lincecum's desire to do a shorter deal was a perfect fit; the organization has a slew of pitching prospects at the lower levels of the minors and believes the prized arms will begin arriving in 2015.
General manager Brian Sabean insisted throughout the season that he intended, at the very least, to give Lincecum a one-year qualifying offer that would have guaranteed him about $14 million but also could have deflated his market because it was tied to draft pick compensation. Lincecum was coy about his plans.
"It's about putting myself in the best situation to succeed in this game, whether that's with this team or another," he said during the season's final weeks. "I think that's going to be my main focus this offseason."
As it turned out, he never quite made it to an offseason bidding war. Lincecum became the second marquee Giant in the past month to eschew free agency, joining fellow Beverly Hills Sports Council client Hunter Pence, who signed a five-year, $90 million deal during the season's final series. Both deals include full no-trade clauses.
"I'm thrilled he is coming back," Pence said via text message. "Tim is a pivotal part of this club and our success and a great teammate. He is a guy you want on the mound and it's a privilege to play behind him."
Here are the Giants' five top-paid players for 2014
1. Matt Cain $20.833M
2. Tim Lincecum $17M
3. Hunter Pence $16M
4. Buster Posey $11.278M
5. Angel Pagan $10.25M
Source: Baseball Prospectus.
Which Timmy will show up?
Here are Tim Lincecum's statistics for his first five years with the Giants compared with his last two seasons:
69-41 W-L 20-29
2.98 ERA 4.76
1,028 INNINGS 383.2
842 Hits allowed 376
66 Homers allowed 44
The highest-paid pitchers in 2014 as of Oct. 22, 2013.
Zack Greinke, Dodgers $26M
Cliff Lee, Phillies $25M
Cole Hamels, Phillies $23.5M
CC Sabathia, Yankees $23M
F. Hernandez, Mariners $22.8M
Matt Cain, Giants $20.8M
Justin Verlander, Tigers $20M
A. Wainwright, Cardinals $19.5M
Mark Buehrle, Blue Jays $19M
Josh Beckett, Dodgers $17M
Tim Lincecum, Giants $17M
Source: Baseball Prospectus