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It’s on: Tim Lincecum files for arbitration

Tim Lincecum

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum works against the Los Angeles Dodgers’ in the first inning of a baseball game on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2009, in Los Angeles, Calif. (AP Photo/Keith Birmingham)


Tim Lincecum was one of 128 players to file for arbitration on Friday, paving the way for him to surpass the record $10 million salary for a first-time eligible player. Ryan Howard set the bar in 2008, a year after he won the National League MVP award.

Lincecum, 25, has won the National League Cy Young award in each of the last two seasons, so the $10 million mark figures to be a starting point on negotiations. In November, Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports wondered if Lincecum could file for as high as $23 million, matching C.C. Sabathia’s record annual salary for pitchers.

Through his first 90 games in the majors, Lincecum is 40-17 with a 2.90 ERA and 1.15 WHIP, so he has a pretty strong case, regardless of service time. Matt Holliday may have signed the most expensive contract this winter, but everyone around baseball will be watching how the Giants proceed with their young ace in the coming weeks.

Lincecum’s unique case may ultimately be a lesson in organizational patience, since had the Giants had waited an extra 10 days before calling him up in 2007, he would not have accrued enough service time to qualify as a “Super Two” player for arbitration. To avoid this scenario, its become common practice to promote top prospects after Memorial Day. Take last season for instance, when Matt Wieters, Tommy Hanson, Gordon Beckham, David Price, Andrew McCutchen and Fernando Martinez all made their major league debuts after May 25.