What Would A Matt Cain Extension Cost?

Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle speculated today, via Twitter, that an extension for Matt Cain might be in the works. Considering that the Giants have yet to officially announce extensions for Jeremy Affeldt and Brian Wilson, Schulman wonders (Twitter link) if a deal for Cain could come "sooner rather than later."

While we wait to see if there's any merit to this speculation, let's examine a pair of comparable contract extensions: Felix Hernandez's $78MM deal with Seattle and Justin Verlander's $80MM pact with the Tigers. Both pitchers, like Cain, were poised to hit free agency after the 2011 season, before their teams locked them up.

Cain's career resume to date is impressive, matching up reasonably well with the Mariners' and Tigers' aces. He has been durable, making at least 31 starts in each of the last four seasons, and his career 1.25 WHIP bests both Felix's (1.27) and Verlander's (1.28). Still, Cain has yet to post a truly elite season like the 2009 campaigns that earned Hernandez and Verlander Cy Young and MVP votes.

The Tigers will pay Verlander $20MM annually in what would have been his first three free agent years, while the Mariners will pay Hernandez $19.3MM per year over the same period. If the Giants were to sign Cain long-term, you'd have to think it could cost them up to $15MM annually for those free agency seasons.

The 25-year-old Cain has a $6.25MM club option for 2011 (his final arbitration season) that should vest if he stays healthy. If the Giants were to extend the right-hander today, they would likely re-do that year, perhaps guaranteeing him $7MM or so. All told, San Francisco could be looking at a price tag in excess of $50MM to retain their #2 starter from 2011 through 2014.


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34 Comments on "What Would A Matt Cain Extension Cost?"


5 years 5 months ago

I see a 5yr/60MM contract in the works….we know the Giants are cheap lately (see: Lincecum’s arbitration case), and this seems fairly reasonable for a #2 of his caliber. Not as much as Verlander/Felix, because while he is very good, he is not at that level (yet).

Grab some pine, meat.
5 years 5 months ago

the giants aren’t “cheap” for trying to lower Lince’s asking price, they did baseball a favor by not giving in to whatever he wants. I love me some Timmy, but it will ruin baseball one case at a time if people get whatever they ask for. The next dude who does well will want twice Tims salary, and for what? Just cause Timmy got it? Its what killed football, and soccer to some extents, and while it looks like a ballclub trying to screw over people, its not really.

Guest
5 years 5 months ago

$4.5MM in ’10, $6.25MM in ’11, $8MM in ’12, $11.5MM in ’13, $14MM in ’14, $50,000 for all-star, $100,000 for CY Young.

He’s owed what $4.5MM in 2010 already and he has a club option worth $6.25MM for 2011 so they can just pick up the option and pay him that. so they’d be paying him a total of $45MM over the next 5 seasons.

Thoughts?

ilovetacos
5 years 5 months ago

that is way low dude

Guest
5 years 5 months ago

The Giants should lock up Sandoval before soon. Maybe sooner rather than later.

I’m also curious as to why the Giants don’t mind locking up Cain but not Lincecum. Assuming Lincecum deserves more, is it really going to be out of the Giants budget?

ilovetacos
5 years 5 months ago

Sandoval: YES. Offer him 20mil+ for 5yrs with some club options tacked on the end, and I think the Giants end up getting a huge bargain.

Lincecum: NO. Well not yet anyways. Pitchers are different and more likely to crash or get injured, plus he is already making a pretty high salary so its really not worth it. Just wait it out a few years and if he is still being timmaaaahhh! then give him the moon.

Guest
5 years 5 months ago

Also I think it’s easier to give Matt Cain an extension simply because he has one of the simplest deliveries in Baseball. He’s more likely to stay healthy than Lincecum.

ilovetacos
5 years 5 months ago

Totally agree, but its gonna take more than 40mil…could be well over 50 considering the lack of shrewdness in the Giants front office.

Guest
5 years 5 months ago

We’ll have to see. I just don’t think that the Giants are willing to spend that much. I’m not saying it won’t happen I’m just skeptic when it comes to Brian Sabean.

Remember, Jonathan Sanchez is still progressing so if they can lock up both they’d be happy with that.

But listen, if they can at least lock up Matt Cain, thats certainly something. At least get him locked up.

myname_989
5 years 5 months ago

I kind of get the feeling that the Giants are going to have trouble locking up Lincecum, Cain, AND Kung Fu Panda, and still be able to compete each year. I mean, those 3 guys go a long way towards competing, but to lock up all three, plus Barry Zito’s atrocious deal… Yeah, can’t see them locking up all 3. Give me Lincecum and Cain and I’d be happy.

Guest
5 years 5 months ago

Remember, they don’t have to lock up Lincecum anytime soon. He has two years of arbirtration left after his 2yr/$25MM deal is up. So I think they have to make sure to keep Pablo Sandoval as much as anybody on their roster. If they wait to lock up Lincecum until he hits free agency, Zito’s contract will already be up so they will have all that money. Still, they have a young core of talent and Jonathan Sanchez is still unsigned long term. They have some young arms in the bullpen as well who will head to arbirtration soon and who knows if Buster Posey, Clayton Tanner, or even Madison Bumgarner will get paid the big bucks within the next few seasons. So they really need to circle the bases. But no doubt about it Matt Cain deserves to be locked up. He’s really proved to be a valuable piece to their future. So whatever it may be, they need to lock him up.

myname_989
5 years 5 months ago

That’s very true. Still, when you look around the rest of baseball, there are a lot of teams where Matt Cain could easily be their ace, and every team in baseball would love to have this guy as their number 2, and believe me, their are a ton of teams that would pay to have him as such. His agents are going to get him Ace type money, and I don’t blame them. This guy is one of the best. That being said, can the Giants pay him that?

And then of course, they have the whole Lincecum issue. Regardless of when he hits free agency, they are still going to have to pay him the bukoo bucks. When you look at the numbers that Verlander and King Felix got, they shouldn’t even be a comparison for Lincecum. He’s the best pitcher in the game, and at his age… He’s going to want a lot of money over a long period of time. There is no reason, (well, maybe aside from it being the Yankees), that he shouldn’t get at least an equivalent, but honestly, more than CC Sabathia.

And then you have that other issue, Pablo Sandoval. If he can get his weight down to a manageable size for a third baseman so that they don’t have to worry about moving him all over the diamond, he’s going to get his payday as well. They guy hits around what, .330? He’s got pretty good pop too. He should probably be payed about 7-8MM a year as well.

So regardless of Zito coming off the books (which I honestly forgot was almost up. It seemed at one point like he was going to be stuck in a Giants uniform forever. Lol) The Giants are still going to have to worry about payroll. They can’t keep a core of three guys and keep supplementing them with average to below average players. They aren’t gonna win a World Series title that way. Then they have top-flight prospects like you said, Bumgarner and Posey.

Man, I’m not a Giants fan and I’m still feeling a little worried. Maybe it would be best to let Cain walk and hope that Bumgarner has that top of the rotation stuff.

Guest
5 years 5 months ago

Interesting point you make. I don’t think they should let Cain walk. I think they should lock him up.

But maybe it was a good thing that they didn’t sign Matt Holliday or Jason Bay. If they did then maybe they wouldn’t be able to lock up Cain, Affeldt, Wilson, and even Sandoval.

I think if it’s under $60MM than they should definetly lock Matt Cain up.

myname_989
5 years 5 months ago

Lol. If they’d signed Bay or Holliday, I’m almost positive Sabean would have been looking for work elsewhere, and don’t think he wasn’t itching to pull that trigger! Lol

But anyway, I definitely agree. If they can sign Cain to a deal under 60MM, by all means they should sign that right away. Like I was saying though, I think that’d be a big discount for him. I can’t see any reason he shouldn’t get 75MM. The only thing working in the Giants favor is the relative obscurity he’s gained from pitching behind Tim Lincecum.

ilovetacos
5 years 5 months ago

thats the point I have been trying to make since last season…lock them all up NOW at reasonable, long term deals with the big money back loaded til after the Zito+Rowand mess has passed like the giant gallbladder stone that it is. It is possible, but will require foresight..something sabean lacks greatly. Seems like he is so focused on making the playoffs in the next 2 years so he can get another extension, that he is willing to sacrifice making the Giants into a legit WS contender.

Guest
5 years 5 months ago

Not all at once!

5 years 5 months ago

They’re probably looking to lock up Cain since he’s nearing free agency soon. Lincecum is still under team control for several years (4 I think) so there’s no need to extend him yet. Cain is obviously much closer to a bidding war with other teams. I hope they pull it off!

itdoesntshowdirt
5 years 5 months ago

Still, Cain has yet to post a truly elite season like the 2009 campaigns that earned Hernandez and Verlander Cy Young and MVP votes.

————————

And yet his ERA was almost a full 1/2 run lower than Verlanders. And Verlander wasn’t especially great outside of the offensively weak AL Central (feasted on all their weak lineups besides Minny’s strong one).

Luke Adams
5 years 5 months ago

You could definitely argue that Cain’s 2009 was “elite,” but I’d say it was a notch below the top SP seasons. Almost all of Verlander’s peripheral stats were better than Cain’s, plus Cain was much luckier when it came to BABIP, strand rate, etc, which was reflected in their FIP numbers (Cain: 3.89, Verlander: 2.80).

BentoBox
5 years 5 months ago

Matt Cain 2009 –
3.89 FIP/ 7.07 K/BB / 3.02 BB/9
Justin Verlander 2009 –
2.80 FIP/ 10.09 K/BB/ 2.36 BB/9
Felix Hernandez 2009 –
3.09 FIP/ 8.18 K/BB/ 2.68 BB/9

alphabet_soup5
5 years 5 months ago

Verlander had the most strikeouts in the MLB. That’s more than Lincecum, who got to pitch against pitchers while Verlander had to face DH’s. Verlander had 10 less walks in 23 more innings than Cain. Also 2 less home runs.

For April, Verlander pitched like he did in 2008. He wouldn’t pitch full strength the entire game, thinking that’s what a starter should do. When he realized he had the stamina to just go all-out the entire game, his ERA was under 3, not including his first 4 starts.

Verlander and Cain somehow had the same WHIP last season despite this. Verlander > Cain, imo.

lakersdodgersyankees4life
5 years 5 months ago

Cain’s 2009 was a bit of a fluke, when you go deeper into the numbers. While his ERA dropped by nearly a run from 08, his FIP was nearly identical. Therefore, he was more lucky than better and should be expected to regress to his 08 levels…

5 years 5 months ago

Or 2008 was his unlucky year, terrible runs support so he presses. The FIP is the same, so there is no regression possible, it is simply a matter of what he has behind him. You can’t say that he is the exact same so he will be a worse going forward. I think you might have some bias.

lakersdodgersyankees4life
5 years 5 months ago

Cain has a similar FIP for most of his major league career. This includes 09. This includes 08. And are you saying that his defense affected his FIP. Read this article, it says that FIP is only what the pitcher controls. Therefore, the FIP normalizes the ERA from year to year. When the FIP remains the same over multiple years but the ERA changes for one year, it is an outlier, most likely…

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=FIP

lakersdodgersyankees4life
5 years 5 months ago

Cain has a similar FIP for most of his major league career. This includes 09. This includes 08. And are you saying that his defense affected his FIP. Read this article, it says that FIP is only what the pitcher controls. Therefore, the FIP normalizes the ERA from year to year. When the FIP remains the same over multiple years but the ERA changes for one year, it is an outlier, most likely…

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=FIP

itdoesntshowdirt
5 years 5 months ago

I wasn’t trying to say he is necessarily better than Verlander, I just think his season warranted the title of “an elite season.” He is almost two years younger than Verlander (1yr 7mo) and he improved his H/9 and more importantly IMO his BB/9. His throwing strikes may have led to the slight decrease in his K/9 (and still improved K/BB), and we all know he has nasty, nasty stuff. Translating that stuff into strikes could’ve have led to his breakout 2009 at just 24 years old.

itdoesntshowdirt
5 years 5 months ago

I wasn’t trying to say he is necessarily better than Verlander, I just think his season warranted the title of “an elite season.” He is almost two years younger than Verlander (1yr 7mo) and he improved his H/9 and more importantly IMO his BB/9. His throwing strikes may have led to the slight decrease in his K/9 (and still improved K/BB), and we all know he has nasty, nasty stuff. Translating that stuff into strikes could’ve have led to his breakout 2009 at just 24 years old.

5 years 5 months ago

Something like 5 yr/$55MM

itdoesntshowdirt
5 years 5 months ago

And by “almost a full 1/2 run” I actually mean MORE than a full 1/2 run (0.56 pts lower to be exact)

ilovetacos
5 years 5 months ago

the man is a beast, no doubt.

5 years 5 months ago

It would cost too much. His career xFIP is 4.49, and he didn’t improve on that much last year, with only 4.22. His career K/BB is only 2.09 (2009: 2.34).

If they extend him now, they’re going to overpay. He’s an above average starting pitcher–maybe better than average by about 1-1.5 wins–but he’s not an ace, or even a true #2. He’s a fine third starter, however. That said, the Giants should wait to see how he pitches this year before handing him a big contract.

drumzalicious
5 years 5 months ago

Cain is a great #2ish starter and could be the ace on a lot of teams.

Something they could be looking at is retaining Cain and trading Lincecum. They would get a ton of talent for him and most likely be able to get a couple of nice young arms back to develop.

5 years 5 months ago

Ha. First, Lincecum is one of those untouchable players, and it’d be franchise suicide to trade him. Second, the difference in production level between Lincecum and Cain is enormous. This is the kind of silly statement which comes from only looking at surface numbers (last year’s ERA) and refusing to look any deeper.

If you’re going to stick to surface evaluations, at least take a look at their WAR numbers over the last couple years, instead: The Freak offers approximately double the value as compared to Cain.

drumzalicious
5 years 5 months ago

Cain is a great #2ish starter and could be the ace on a lot of teams.

Something they could be looking at is retaining Cain and trading Lincecum. They would get a ton of talent for him and most likely be able to get a couple of nice young arms back to develop.