As I was watching the MLB Network yesterday after the Matt Cain signing, former ESPN and now current MLB Network analyst quietly praised the Cain signing but questioned it in his final thoughts, saying it was “impossible” for the Giants to sign both Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum to long term deals.
Reynolds isn’t the only one though. Many media personalities across the country, columnists and apparently want-to-be financial experts continue to preach the same – the Giants simply can’t afford both Cain and Lincecum. I’d like to assume that those said “experts” checked the Giants’ books, but I have a feeling they didn’t so I guess Public Enemy had it right – don’t believe the hype.
This isn’t a situation on if the Giants should sign Tim Lincecum long term as you’ll have a variety of opinions on that matter, it’s just a case of can they afford it? Simple answer – yes.
Tiny Tim is currently banking a very lucrative $22 million dollar contract for this season. One could safely assume that the initial year of his new contract would easily break $25 million, but let’s just stay on the short side of that and say his opening year would start at $25 to keep it simple. It’s a three million dollar increase from the ’12 year – not exactly the things that make or break franchises with the type of finances the Giants have.
Let us not forget, this is a franchise who invested heavily in the ballpark development area (real estate) when AT&T Park was built. This is a franchise that owns 30% of their television network – not just Giant games, the network. That means money from Warrior broadcasts. Money from the Shark broadcasts. No, we’re not talking Yankee YES money or NESN, Red Sox money but it’s certainly no chump change either. Yes, there are still stadium debts but those are quickly evaporating.
But back to the actual on field talent. Reynolds, among others, clearly choose to ignore the fact that money from albatross like contracts will soon be clearing themselves from the books. Barry Zito? Yes, there is a $7 million dollar buyout going into the ’14 season, but that’s $18 million dollars off the books alone (and who knows, maybe they come to a buyout situation long before that). In addition to the vomit worthy Zito contractual situation, you have $12 million on the books that the Giants are currently paying Aaron Rowand who’s sitting home after failing to make the Miami Marlins roster.
Aubrey Huff, who’s entering the final season of his contract, will remove $10 million dollars from the Giants payroll ($2 million buyout) for the ’13 season. Brian Wilson and his $8.5 million will depart (though if Sabean has his wish, he’ll return). Freddy Sanchez? His $6 million is off the books. Melky Cabrera? Who knows what will happen after this year, but he and his $6 million is off the books if the Giants so desire. In addition to all the above, Jeremy Affeldt and his $5 million dollar option will run out as will the $5 million dollar contract of Angel Pagan.
Granted, yes, there will be players like Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner who will have salary increases via arbitration or their contracts extended, but at such youthful points in their career, the MLB contractual structure will play heavily into the franchises favor over the players. In addition, you’ll see raises for players like Matt Cain who’ll jump from $15 million this season to more or less $20 million in ’13.
And yes, it’s difficult to look into the crystal ball and see exactly what Brian Sabean will do in terms of bringing back players like Brian Wilson, but it’s safe to say financially the Giants are well equipped to bring back Tim Lincecum if they so desire.
So next time somebody on TV or in print says the Giants can’t afford it? Tell them to do their job, because yes, they can. They might opt not to, but as former Padres play-by-play man (who’s still well in-tune with the NL West) who’s now the lead host of MLB Network told Reynolds yesterday, “they’re printing money up in San Francisco”.
Financially, Tim Lincecum can and will be a San Francisco Giant if the Giants want to invest in him.