How the Tim Lincecum signing may impact the Mets’ offseason

Tim LincecumAfter sitting out the high dollar free agent market the past few years, fans are foaming at the mouth imagining the Mets once again being big players for the marquee names. We’re going to trade for Troy Tulowitzki and Matt Kemp, sign Shin-Soo Choo and Bronson Arroyo, and if he’ll go on a short deal, we’ll stoop to get Tim Lincecum, too. Woops, scratch that last one – Lincecum just signed for 2/$35.

Raise your hand if you imagined a guy with a combined 2.5 fWAR over the past two seasons getting such a deal. And he got that *before* hitting the open market. There’s a decent chance Lincecum could have gotten more money if some other team got involved in a bidding war with San Francisco. With Barry Zito’s contract finally up, perhaps the Giants felt obligated to have someone take his place with an obscene contract.

Or maybe this is what players are going to cost on the open market this year.

It’s old news now that every team in MLB has more money to spend this year – around $25 million per team – thanks to the new television contracts. A few owners will pocket that money but many more will use that to invest in their teams. And there’s no more visible way to do that than with a splashy free agent signing.

But free agency will not be the only place where we see an impact. What two years ago seemed like a slight overpay will now be considered a normal deal. And anyone signed to a good contract now will seem like a super bargain. Tulowitzki has posted a 5.5 fWAR or above in four of the last five seasons and just turned 29. His $16 million price tag for 2014 seems like an incredible deal, even if it comes along with six more seasons and a minimum of $118 million owed. How much will he cost in a trade?

Let’s get back to pitching. If Lincecum is worthy of 2/$35, what does that make Arroyo’s price tag? Lincecum is younger but Arroyo has been better recently and the length of Lincecum’s deal mitigates the age difference to a big degree. The past two seasons, Arroyo posted 3.2 fWAR.

One could argue that the Giants are paying a premium hoping that Lincecum bounces back closer to his Cy Young Award form and that Arroyo simply does not have that possibility in him. Fair enough yet how much extra would you be willing to pay for what a guy did five years ago? The Giants are seemingly valuing him at the 3.6 fWAR he put up in 2011. Given that he did not put up that total combined the past two seasons, they’re either betting on a huge bounce-back or a completely different valuation model.

We cannot make any judgments based on one deal. But for those who hoped the Mets would be big players in free agency, this cannot be a good sign. Actually, it might be a very good thing for the Mets. Maybe, instead of spending $25 million for Arroyo, they’ll give a shot to a pitcher already in their farm system. So, instead of sinking a lot of cash into SP as an overreaction to the Matt Harvey injury, they’ll put money where it really needs to go – the offense.

16 comments for “How the Tim Lincecum signing may impact the Mets’ offseason

  1. October 27, 2013 at 10:51 am

    I guess the Giants did what they felt was best for the organization. But in so doing they just raised every free agent in 2014 market value exponentially. How much is Roy Halliday worth then? Or even Bronson Arroyo?

  2. pal88
    October 27, 2013 at 11:39 am

    At least we can cross off the colusion argument

  3. Joe Vasile
    October 27, 2013 at 11:57 am

    Brian, I’ve been right there with you in thinking that the Mets don’t need to spend money on starting pitching this off season. Between the depth of arms at the AAA and MLB level, plus the more pressing need for offense, and now the ridiculous market level now set by Lincecum’s deal, it is pretty much set in stone that starting pitching will not be acquired via free agency this offseason (not ruling out any trades though).

  4. Pres
    October 27, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    But just look at what a good free agent signing does for a team. It’s almost impossible to be a contender without these signings.

    • Joe Vasile
      October 27, 2013 at 12:03 pm

      Yes, but you need the right signings. Getting another pitcher won’t help as much as getting a good outfielder or a shortstop.

  5. Name
    October 27, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Brian Sabaen is to resigning players as Alderson is to the draft.

    Pence signed for 5/90, Choo is expected to get not that much more.
    Angel Pagan signed for 4/45 last season. Bourn got 4/48.
    36 yr Marco Scutaro was signed for 3/20.
    Jeremy Affelt (pretty average lefty reliever) signed for 3/18!

    and now Lincecum for 2/35.

    He clearly overpays, and it doesn’t seem to affect the rest of the market because other teams know that he does.

    • October 27, 2013 at 1:15 pm

      I laughed at your opening line.

      But at least you can see the rationale for some of these moves. Pence is coming off a 5.4 fWAR season. If we regress half a win a year for the life of the contract, we get Pence putting up 19.5 WAR for a WAR valuation of under $5 million.

      Now, that’s not how I would value Pence – but at least you can justify it based on his recent performance.

      Pagan – Cot’s shows it as 4/$40 and that includes the signing bonus. He was coming off a 4.5 fWAR season in 2012 and had a 5.1 mark in 2010. I don’t see that as an overpay at all. Bourn was hurt by the QO and with so much of his value being tied up in defense.

      Scutaro – In five seasons since becoming a full-time player, Scutaro averaged 2.8 fWAR a year. It seems that contract had an age-decline factor built into it and with Scutaro already putting up a 2.7 fWAR in 2013, it’s well on its way to being a value.

      Affeldt – I’ve got nothing.

  6. Mack Ade
    October 27, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    I can’t see the Mets signing any starter for more than one year.

    Harvey at 80% in 2014 would be better than most pitchers in the league and both Syndergaard and Montero will be major league ready.

  7. Metsense
    October 27, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    The Pence signing has raised the bar. Ellsbury and Choo should go for at least that amount and probably more. It seems that might be too rich for Sandy. Granderson is estimated at 3/45 to 4/56 , Cruz at 3/39 and even Beltran at 2/30.
    The Mets have 2 definite offensive holes to fill in rightfield and shortstop, then there is the problem of the two remaining outfielders each being 90 OPS points below the league average for their positions. $30 M is not going to be enough to make this team playoff competitive, no matter how much the Wilpon’s wish it to be. Time to raise the budget or be satisfied with a plus .500 record on the same budget.

  8. Chris F
    October 27, 2013 at 6:58 pm

    Yes, reality does dictate we are more on the ’16 horizon than anything else. So much work still to do, with little money to do it with.

    • October 27, 2013 at 8:08 pm

      Chris – how much money do you think they will spend to bring new talent into the organization?

      • Chris F
        October 27, 2013 at 9:12 pm

        I think not much for ’14. SA is smart enough to know that the team is a long way off still, and given the shortish contracts he prefers, hes in an awkward window. Bringing in someone for a lot of $ and 2-3 years really only is window dressing. I think the Red Sox model is code for not much. Maybe some recognizable name to make some window dressing.

        The wild card: Ellsbury or CarGo etc. Really shaking the tree to bring a winner in long term. Its not SA or DePos calling card, but one never knows.

  9. October 28, 2013 at 1:14 am

    Will the Wilpons extend SA’s contract now or leave him hanging in the wind? It would go good to know that way Alderson can commit the teams money for more than a single season and sign a high profile free agent.

  10. Sean Flattery
    October 29, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Numbers aside..I really love the culture San Francisco has created over there. I think they have the best atmosphere and fanbase in the league. I think the 2 signings were as much about the romance the players and fans have sparked in winning 2 titles as it is recapturing their better seasons.

    I would love to get out there to see Mets play!

    • NormE
      October 29, 2013 at 5:25 pm

      Sean,
      Great field and great atmosphere. If it’s a night game bring along an extra layer. Use common sense when leaving the park.

      • Sean F
        October 29, 2013 at 5:32 pm

        Good Advice!! I saw the Mets in Candlestick Park when I was little. It was July and we were covered in blankets, crazy!!!

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