Giants Ink Cain To Lucrative Five-Year Extension

The San Francisco Giants reached an agreement today with right-handed starter Matt Cain that will keep Cain in orange and black at least through the 2017 season. Cain was entering the last year of his contract and had set an Opening Day-deadline for a contract extension with the Giants. That deal is now official.

The Giants will pay Cain $15 million for 2012 (the salary under his old contract), and $100 million for next five seasons (2013-2017). San Francisco has a club option for 2018 for $21 million but that becomes a player option if Cain reaches a certain number of innings pitched. If the Giants decline the option, Cain is guaranteed $7.5 million. If it becomes a player option, Cain can decline and still receive the $7.5 million. There is also a $5 million signing bonus. The contract includes a full no-trade clause.

With the signing bonus, and assuming the Giants pick up the option for 2018, the total price for the extension is $126 million over six years for an AAV of $21 million. If the Giants don’t pick up the extension, and buy out the option for $7.5 million, then the AAV goes up to $22.4 million.

Only CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee and Johan Santana have higher AAVs under their current contracts. All are lefties. Cain is the first right-handed pitcher to sign a multi-year deal with an AAV of $21 million or higher. (In 2007, Roger Clemens signed a one-year deal with the Houston Astros for $28 million).

As I wrote a few weeks ago, a deal in the range of five years/$100 million made sense for both Cain and the Giants. First, on Cain’s value:

Cain is (affectionately) known as the sabermatrician’s nightmare because he’s held batters to a lower-than-expected BABIP year after year and has a career home run/fly ball ratio that even Roy Halladay envies. But his other peripherals have been strong and, most importantly, moving in the right direction.

Cain’s strikeout-to-walk ratio hovered around 2.0 his first five years but has steadily climbed, averaging 2.7 the last two seasons, mostly attributable to a sharply declining walk rate. That’s led to a drop in WHIP, which sat at 1.08 in 2010 and 2011. But perhaps the most encouraging development for Cain has been his transition from an extreme fly-ball pitcher to a more balanced ground-ball/fly-ball one.

–snip–

What kind of contract makes sense for the Giants and Cain? Over the last six seasons, Cain’s been worth, on average, $16.5 million. Last season his value shot up to $23.4 million. His peripherals are improving every year and he’s been healthy and durable since putting on a Giants uniform. He’s big and strong (6-3, 230) and has the frame to pitch 200-plus inning every season without breaking down.

Cain’s made it clear that he won’t give the Giants a “hometown discount” like Jered Weaver gave the Angels in signing his new 5-year/$85 million contract last season and, given his numbers, health and durability, I can see why. A five-year/$100 million deal makes more sense for Cain.

As for why a long-term deal with Cain in the $100 million range made sense for the Giants:

The Giants payroll will hit $130 million this season and there’s no reason to think the team can’t sustain that level going forward. For 2013, San Francisco is locked into $59.2 million, comprised largely of salary for Lincecum and Zito, but also includes raises given to Pablo Sandoval, Ryan Vogelsong and reliever Javier LopezBuster Posey will be in his first arbitration year, but his salary won’t break the bank (at least not next season).

–snip–

The only commitments the Giants have for 2014 are $8.25 million to Sandoval, a $7 million buyout of Zito, and the increasing costs of Posey and Bumgarner. By then, prospects Gary Brown will be roaming center field and Joe Panik will be handling the keystone, all for the league minimum. Adding in $25 million for Lincecum doesn’t preclude $20 million for Cain, given the other cost-controlled players.

This is a good deal for both Cain and the Giants. Cain has financial security, a pitching coach with whom he works incredibly well, and a fan base in San Francisco that adores him. The Giants have locked-up one of the best right-handed starters in the game for the next five, maybe six, seasons. Sure, $21 million AAV is a lot of money. But the Giants were looking at a lot of payroll flexibility after the 2014 season and a farm system light on starting pitching prospects.




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Wendy's baseball writing has also been published by Sports on Earth. ESPN.com, SB Nation, The Score, Bay Area Sports Guy, The Classical and San Francisco Magazine. Wendy practiced law for 18 years before beginning her writing career. You can find her work at wendythurm.pressfolios.com and follow her on Twitter @hangingsliders.


60 Responses to “Giants Ink Cain To Lucrative Five-Year Extension”

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  1. jesse says:

    126 million? Isn’t that contract cursed?

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  2. Joe N. says:

    And now, coupled with the Votto extension, the Phillies are screwed. Essentially zero chance of locking up Hamels for less than $25 million/season, and frankly, they probably shouldn’t at that price. The Dodgers are undoubtedly going to make Cole their #1 priority and, given ownership’s willingness to spend, will throw the kitchen sink at him.

    The Phillies have nobody to blame but themselves. They went out and made ridiculous signings and extensions (Howard, J-Roll, Blanton, Papelbon, Ibanez, etc…) and never addressed the inevitable with their homegrown talent.

    Any chance Lincecum has changed his mind on signing a long-term extension?

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    • Dan says:

      Blanton comes off the books this season. Ibanez is gone. RAJ waited out the market and signed Rollins at a good price, especially considering he was the best SS on the market not named Jose Reyes. Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good rant.

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      • Joe N. says:

        Just posted a link below re: the phils payroll obligations…it just doesn’t seem like they have the flexibility. Already have $94 million (5 players) and $74 million (4 players) committed in 2014 and 2015, respectively.

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      • Dan says:

        Joe, maybe, maybe not. But that doesn’t make Ibanez, Blanton, or Rollins relevant. The only truly bad contract is Howard’s deal. Even Papelbon is defensible, regardless of what Keith Law says.

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      • Joe N. says:

        Dan,

        True. Ibanez and Blanton are totally irrelevant, and it’s not like they had a ton of options with J-Roll. The other long term deals are still good. What’s most frustrating, to me, is that they delayed this and treated it with so little urgency. I don’t see how they can keep both Pence and Victorino AND Hamels, and unfortunately they have so little offense in the pipeline that they need the 2 OFs.

        In the next 2 years, we have 2 starting OF coming due, starting 2B/3B/C coming due, and few internal options to adequately replace them. It’s troubling, to say the least. Do you think they’d exceed $200 million in payroll as soon as 2014? I have doubts about the future of this club.

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      • DavidCEisen says:

        “it’s not like they had a ton of options with J-Roll”

        Yes, the opportunity to sign J-Roll to a below market contract did limit their options.

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    • Mhad says:

      I wouldn’t be so surprised if Hamels signed almost the exact same contract. They have a very similar track record.

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      • dustygator says:

        Two differences

        1. Hamels is lefty
        2. Assuming they don’t agree on an extension, Hamels will be available for open bidding rather than exclusive negotiations with his current team. Others teams will compete and drive the price up, especially the Dodgers.

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  3. Brian S. says:

    I think this is a GREAT contract! Matt has a career losing record, but today, he is a $100,000,000 winner.

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    • Chike says:

      We don’ talk ’bout win-loss records round these parts.

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    • Ken says:

      Career Run Support for Active Pitchers (min 150 starts):
      Matt Cain – 3.73
      Zack Greinke – 4.01
      Paul Maholm – 4.03
      Feliz Hernandez – 4.05
      Wandy Rodriguez – 4.34

      I think there’s more to the contract than his win/loss record, especially on a sabermetric site.

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  4. SecondHandStore says:

    That’s great for the Giants. I hope this doesn’t put Greinke out of reach for the Brewers.

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    • Joe N. says:

      If Hamels re-ups with the Phillies, it will. I’m certain he won’t, though:

      http://wp.me/p2jTag-1i

      Top FA’s next year are Hamels, Greinke, Hamilton, Victorino, and Garza, probably in that order or an order like that. I think they’ll make the run at Hamels, it makes too much sense. If they don’t wrap something up with Greinke, though, I could see him eventually hiring an agent and him and Hamels getting mega-deals in the offseason.

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  5. Taylor says:

    I don’t think it’s a super great deal for the Giants, by any stretch of the imagination, but I have a hard time imagining that Cain won’t be worth it.

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    • Oliver says:

      It’s a market deal, basically, and they did well to limit the years.

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      • JohnnyBigPotatoes says:

        I don’t think you can establish a new market threshold and then call it a “market deal” based on that.

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      • Oliver says:

        Cain will get a similar deal, or better, and Greinke will too. Felix Hernandez only makes a tiny fraction less over the next couple years, and he’s a right hander like Cain. Lincecum is only making a tiny fraction less, will make more in 2013.
        The Giants payed what everyone expected it to take. Sounds like market to me.

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      • Oliver says:

        Derp, I mean Hamels will get a similar deal.

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    • brendan says:

      “I have a hard time imagining that Cain won’t be worth it.”

      why? It’s easy to imagine Cain gets hurt or becomes less effective, isn’t it?

      I’m a giants fan, and I don’t like the deal. Not enough of a discount for the risk the team is taking. more of a weaver/wilson deal, say 5/90 would be fair I think.

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    • Baltar says:

      Your imagination must be severely limited.
      Look up Zito, Barry.

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  6. stjz says:

    Got that annoying feeling that the second this contract was signed scales of universe turned back to the state of balance and for the next six years we’ll be seeing a lot of ERAs in mid-fours.

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  7. Scott Willis says:

    I think that the Giants are going to end up paying more than what Cain is worth but they were in a situation where they didn’t really have a choice with what they have sold the fans on not spending on hitting to keep the homegrown pitching.

    http://www.crazycrabbers.com/2012/04/matt-cain-extended-for-5-years-and.html

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  8. lpshred says:

    Holy Crap! They’re still paying Zito. Forgot about that awful contract.

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  9. TheRuckus says:

    Minor quibble: Clemens spent 2007 with the Yankees, not the Astros.

    Sorry, I’m just trying not to think about how much money Hamels stands to make now…

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  10. fergie348 says:

    Hamels will go to the Dodgers next year – you heard it here last.. He’s a SoCal boy and the Dodgers new ownership will be looking to make a splash. I bet he gets 5/118 plus a full no-trade and a player option on year 6. That would make a nice top 3 for L.A. – Kershaw, Billingsley, Hamels. Kinda matches up nice with Lincecum, Bumgarner, Cain..

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    • Joe N. says:

      Hamels will get more than that annually for sure.

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    • English On Tour says:

      Why does everyone assume that because they Dodgers ownership paid a lot for the franchise they are going to dig into their pockets and reflect that in the on field product? If anything they could tighten the purse strings so that they get as much of their investment back as quickly as possible to appease the investors, who are businessmen after all. You don’t overpay that much for a franchise because you just want to see it do well, you do it because you think it’s a cash cow. Don’t expect the Dodgers to suddenly become the NL Yankees.

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      • Joe N. says:

        For starters, they said so. Any team stupid enough to pay $800 million more than the next best bid is probably stupid enough to overpay free agents to get there.

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      • English On Tour says:

        Owners say a lot of things that the fans want to hear…

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      • jim says:

        so you *really* think that magic johnson, already an LA sports hero, became even more of an LA sports hero, only to not even be able to increase payroll?

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      • English On Tour says:

        Magic is the face of the ownership group with the intention of getting the bid accepted over others (and overbidding helps too). His stake in the Dodgers is probably minimal compared to others and he won’t contribute much, if anything, towards the payroll. It’s a business and whilst I get that Dodgers fans are desperate for any good news, skyrocketing payrolls and endless streams of cash in the next few years aren’t a reality. You can disagree all you want, but you’ll just have to wait and see who is right. No point arguing it before the fact.

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  11. English On Tour says:

    Cain is good and will provide a lot of value for the Giants. But is he $21 million per year good? No. Another bad contract from the Giants.

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    • jim says:

      But is he $21 million per year good? No.

      please explain how you arrive at this conclusion in any way other than ignorance or trolling

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      • English On Tour says:

        Fuck off you prick. Can someone not state an opinion without you sticking your cock in your mouth and trying to inflate your own ego in a pathetic online forum? If this is the only satisfaction you get from your miserable life then I weep for you. Go back to your internet porn and meals-for-one you twat.

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      • Jimsuckscockforcash says:

        He’s 27 already, his velocity is declining, he’s not getting any younger and the Giants should really be spending this money on their offence. If he maintains his stats at his current rate then at his average of 4 WAR per year and @ $5mil per win he’s worth $20 million a year (a tiny overpay of 1 million). However, is he really going to be a 4 win pitcher for the next 5 years through his age 33 season? That’s unlikely, which would make it an overpay. Happy now cunt?

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  12. cs3 says:

    The important thing for Giants fans is that Cain is a proven commodity and the Giants know exactly what theyre getting with him.
    Im waaaay more comfortable with them allocating that kind of money to Cain than possibly blowing the same amount on 2-3 overvalued veteran FA hitters per year for the next 5-6 years.

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  13. fergie348 says:

    The key is that you just can’t get the proven young talent in the FA market. How do you get the likes of Longoria, Zimmerman, Buster Posey, Justin Upton, even Jesus Montero? You can’t sign them when they’re under 28 years old, you have to either draft & develop or trade for them. Trading young prospects is where you can make or break your future club, depending on how good/lucky you get. Pitchers are a whole lot harder to judge, and they’re more volatile so you have to be both good and lucky (or rich..) to make it work.

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  14. theeiffeltower says:

    Riiiight, totally guaranteed that Panik and Brown will be productive major leaguers in 2014. lol

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  15. DrBGiantsfan says:

    The reason why the Giants can afford to do this is their steady stream of talent coming in from the farm system. As Huff’s contract is done, Belt can step in. As Freddy Sanchez’ contract runs out, Panik steps in. Brown can take over CF in a year or two. Posey and Bumgarner don’t hit FA until 2017, the year Cain’s contract is up. Sandoval is cost controlled for 3 more seasons. They will even end up with some tradeable excess talent before all is said and done. They will easily have the resources to exend Timmy when the time comes. In the meantime they have him for the next two seasons at very low risk.

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  16. I did a very thorough projection of Cain’s worth starting with his peripherals and building all the way out to WAR and AAV for his contract.

    Check out the numbers and analysis by clicking on my name

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  17. your mother says:

    the biggest question Sabean probably faced was: Do I sign matt cain for 22 million per this year (age 27 and wants a long term deal, preferably from the Giants, but wants to get paid what he’s worth) or Tim Lincecum for a substantially greater amount (north of 25 mill per year maybe)in two years (age 29, and has expressed he does not want a long term deal and is much more likely to leave SF)? I believe that Sabean thinks that he has to choose between Cain and Lincecum due to the two player’s attitudes towards staying in San Francisco, where both have expressed (and now Cain has fulfilled) not wanting to take the “home-town discount” that others have (CJ Wilson and Jered Weaver specifically). Coupling this is the fact the Giants have the best home-grown rotation in the majors, but no depth to back it upI am not saying that this is the right decision I am merely pointing out the dilemma of Sabean. He knows that these pitchers want to get paid, he knows that he needs to center his team around pitching, but he does not believe that he can pay both of these pitchers what they want while also assuming (perhaps wrongly) that these pitchers will walk if there is more money on the table. As such, he probably believes he is taking the safer/cheaper option of the two routes: long-term deals are better on the salary situation (which Cain wants and Lincecum does not), Lincecum has regressed (though not significantly enough in my eyes to make a difference) where Cain has improved over their tenure’s as Giants, and Cain appears to be the more durable in terms of his build and the amount of innings that he has thrown. Do you really think that the longest tenured GM in the majors is not going to weigh all the issues that are elaborated above (in the article as well as the comments) before making his decision? The question should not be: is Matt Cain a risk at this amount of dollars per year? Of course it is a risk, every contract is a risk, especially when you get into giving players long-term, high dollar deals. Thus the risk of signing someone is not the issue, rather, the question needs to be more specific in that Cain should be compared with Lincecum and his projected value/projected worth. What are the positives and negatives of signing one guy over and against the other? I am not attempting to say that Cain is as good of a pitcher as Lincecum because he is not, what I am trying to portray (hopefully) is the mindset of Sabean and the Giants Organization when evaluating what it is that they believe to be best for the organization as a whole. Therefore, if I am being frank, Sabean is probably being cheap (rather, cheaper since its hard to be cheap when spending 120 mill on one guy) in banking on the continuation of Matt Cain to pitch beyond his peripherals, rather than paying what would most likely be a much greater amount for Tim Lincecum in 2 years when he’s 29.

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  18. CheeseWhiz says:

    I am not a Giants fan, but I wouldn’t want my team to sign him for that money. I know he has historically outperformed his peripherals, and those numbers have been improving too… but you’re paying elite money for a non elite talent, and pitchers blow up all the time. This seems like an extremely risky contract to me.

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    • DrBGiantsfan says:

      Cain has earned 24 WAR in the last 6 years. At $5 M/ WAR, he’s worth $20 M/year which is exactly what he is getting. All long term contracts carry risk. I am a Giants fan and I’m happy!

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      • Baltar says:

        And he’s also going to get younger rather than older in the next 6-7 years and reverse his decline in velocity.
        He is truly remarkable!

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  19. bubba says:

    All i heard in the last few years was “how much of a home town discount will Cain give the Giants?” so i thought he migh go in the $17-$18 mil/year range. And then there was that ex-GM who said Hamels would go for 5 yrs $75 mil but Cain would go for much much more. Then the local radio folks seemed to panic, “will they ever sign him?” $21, $22 or $23? “seems the Yankees like him and will offer him a boatload next offseason” then it was “OMG the Dodgers now have TONS of money and they’ll steal him next year!”

    and now that he’s signed it seems like most of the experts claim it was an overpay, lol. whatever.

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    • Bhaakon says:

      Cain ended up giving the Giants such an absurd discount in his first big extension that I’m not surprise he wasn’t willing to leave anything on the table. He was probably getting less than half of what he’d have gotten going through arbitration.

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  20. Brian Sabean says:

    Call 9-1-1, I got raped by this contract.

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