Assessing Early Returns On Recent Giants Extensions

No MLB team finalized more extensions this offseason than the Giants, who locked up five of their top players. General manager Brian Sabean committed more than $200MM in future salaries in the four-month period from the beginning of January to the beginning of April. The extensions promised to solidify the team’s rotation long-term and cap the future earnings of a pair of arbitration eligible All-Stars. 

For the most part, the extensions have worked for the team. Tim Lincecum's disappointing season is the largest blemish on an otherwise encouraging set of contracts for San Francisco. 

Matt Cain - Giants (PW)

Lincecum, whose early-career accomplishments assured him of a substantial raise, signed a two-year, $40.5MM contract extension to cover his final two arbitration years. Though he has pitched better lately, his ERA sits at 5.30 in what has been the most disappointing season of his MLB career. It’d be understandable if the Giants are relieved Lincecum didn’t accept their $100MM extension offer before the season. In that context, $40.5MM isn’t so expensive. Still, if the team had gone year to year with Lincecum, he wouldn’t have been locked in for a $22MM salary in 2013; a non-tender would have been possible.

Three other Giants starters have exceeded expectations since signing multiyear deals. Vogelsong, who signed a two-year, $8.3MM contract in January, is repeating last year's success. He has a 2.85 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 on his way toward a career high in innings pitched. Vogelsong would have been a free agent after the 2012 season if the Giants hadn't locked him up. They'll surely be glad to have him back for just $5MM in 2013 (the extension also includes a 2014 club option).

Like Vogelsong, Madison Bumgarner has replicated his 2011 success. The 23-year-old left-hander has inserted himself into the NL Cy Young Award race by posting a 2.83 ERA with five times as many strikeouts as walks in 171 2/3 innings this year. He obtained a record deal for pitchers with one-plus years of MLB service (five-years, $35MM), so it’s not as though Bumgarner obtained anything less than full value back in April. But this deal could hardly be going better for the Giants.

Matt Cain also obtained a record-setting contract this spring. He obtained a five-year, $112.5MM contract that established a record for right-handed pitchers. He's earning Cy Young Award consideration again after pitching a perfect game and posting a 2.83 ERA in 174 2/3 innings. If Cain had reached the free agent market this offseason, he would be the most sought-after pitcher available. The Giants could have re-signed him, of course, but not without spending considerably more than they did in April.

Lastly, Pablo Sandoval's play has justified his new three-year, $17.15MM contract — at least when he's been on the field. Although he spent time on the disabled list with a strained hamstring and a fractured hamate bone, he does have an .821 OPS in 294 plate appearances. This extension had limited upside for the Giants in the first place, since it didn’t buy out any free agent years or include any club options.

For now the Giants are presumably focused on maintaining their division lead over the Dodgers and Diamondbacks. A few months from now, once the most chaotic part of the offseason has ended, Sabean and the rest of the San Francisco front office will encounter a familiar challenge: it'll be time to consider extensions for a new set of players led by All-Star catcher Buster Posey.

Photo courtesy of US Presswire.


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22 Comments on "Assessing Early Returns On Recent Giants Extensions"


rockfordone
3 years 5 days ago

Very well run team – pitching and more pitching – name of game – look at those Rays

Walter Cook
3 years 5 days ago

As bad as 2012 has been, there’s no way in hell that Lincecum would have been non-tendered this off-season.

hopper15
3 years 5 days ago

agreed

BLB25
3 years 5 days ago

Totally, and they wouldn’t have save more than 1 or 2 mil in arb at absolute best.

Casey McMahon
3 years 5 days ago

No mention of Aubrey Huff. I think you overlooked a “BIG” Contract.

Bryce
3 years 5 days ago

That wasn’t “this” off season.

Tony DiQuattro
3 years 5 days ago

True, probably just wants to remind everyone that they have nearly $30M sunk into Huff, Rowand and Sanchez alone.

55saveslives
3 years 5 days ago

Unfair to put Sanchez in there. He balled out until he got hurt diving for a ball.

rainyperez
3 years 5 days ago

Huff in hindsight he was coming out of a MVP like season in 2010 and helped them win a World Series in over 56 years.

Sanchez also was integral in 2010 and was rolling just fine until his freak injury in 2011.

The fact that each of those contract’s plus Affeldt’s are gone next season is not much of a worry to Giants fans.

Jason_F
3 years 5 days ago

I don’t see a problem with picking up Affeldt’s $5M option.

rainyperez
3 years 5 days ago

There is no problem there just mentioning it because of the big amount of money that is coming off the books next year for the team.

BLB25
3 years 5 days ago

Yea, I didn’t like the Huff contract at the time, but I understand they kind of had to do it. Its much easier to swallow when you think of it as the Giants still paying him as a thank you for 2010. I wouldn’t be surprised if Affeldt returns, the team loves him and he seems to be happy here. Maybe it won’t be quite as expensive as his last contract, but it’ll probably be close.

rainyperez
3 years 5 days ago

I don’t think Affeldt would be worth $5 million again. Maybe sign him to a 2 year $6 million contract. I do agree it seems like he is a staple of the clubhouse and I wouldn’t mind having around especially with that ridiculous curveball he has.

MetsEventually
3 years 5 days ago

I can only pray that Wheeler, Harvey and Fulmer would turn out like Cain, Bumgarner and Vogelsong. Just one of them to be like any of them, would be a dream come true.

rainyperez
3 years 5 days ago

What’s crazy about the Giants is that Tidrow who oversees their scouting for pitching has a talent for it. They have three pitchers in Clayton Blackburn, Kyle Crick, and Chris Heston in the minors. And of course Wheeler was originally drafted by the Giants.

Will they be like Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner, or Vogelsong? Maybe, maybe not. But its undeniable the last couple of years they have a penchant for finding starting pitching gems in the draft.

Arik Goldsmit
3 years 5 days ago

Like the way Isringhausen and the guys that came up with him turned out right? But back then it was “would be awesome if they came close to Maddox, Glavine, and Smoltz”.

daddylove
3 years 5 days ago

Chris Stratton and Mike Kickham also waiting in the wings. With future closer Heath Hembree. The future is still bright even without Wheeler…at least giants fans hope!

rainyperez
3 years 5 days ago

Kickham and Heston look great. Let’s hope Stratton recovers from his concussion.

The real prospect is Crick who has a plus Fastball and curve. I hope he develops a split or a two seamer to compliment his pitching style.

The dark horse is Clayton Blackburn who has amazing control his BB ratio is pretty crazy for a young pitcher.

ramjamrock
3 years 5 days ago

Heston is not going to be anything more than a fifth starter at best. He likely profiles as a reliever in the majors. Kickham is intriguing, but could also end up in the bullpen either due to roster crunch or durability issues. Stratton is too far off with too little minor league experience for me to have an opinion. I hope that he recovers well from his concussion and can put together a solid performance next year (hopefully in San Jose, but I wouldn’t be shocked if they start him in Augusta).

Crick has the best chance to be an impact starter of this group, but his walk rate it truly worrisome. He has been walking less batters of late, so hopefully he has turned a corner in his development. We shall have to wait and see next year when he gets to San Jose.

Clayton Blackburn is a player I have been very impressed by thus far, but I worry that he’s another Tim Alderson in the making. He’s definitely a control/finesse pitcher, and they have less room for error as they make their way up the minor league ladder. See: Surkamp, Eric; Tanner, Clayton; Barnes, Scott.

rainyperez
3 years 5 days ago

The first two you mention Kickham and Heston may be filler’s but in a rotation filled with Cain, Bumgarner, and yes Lincecum who I think they retain after 2013. The Giants have the luxury of picking and choosing who fills in behind them.

Blackburn is interesting and while you could be right I think the organization will have a better evaluation of him next season.

Kid is still young and has yet to grow into his body so there is potential upside with the development of his pitches.

Crick looks great very raw could e a high a 2 or 3. Then again as with Blackburn he has yet to grow into his body I think they’ll have a better evaluation of him next season.

daddylove
3 years 5 days ago

Well, hate to say it but, Brett Bochy is having a great season as reliever and giants drafted a ton of relievers like okert, and stephen johnson who got great reviews. Keep Heston, Escobar, and Justin Fitzgerald as starters as long as possible. I think as Giants fans we have been too spoiled by our elite starters. Some starters take time to blossom.

mistgl
3 years 5 days ago

The difference between Blackburn and Surkamp is, Blackburn can actually sit in the 90s. He tops out at 95 and sits in the 90-92 range during starts and maintains that deep into games.

Almost every major prospect junkie has Blackburn pegged with a 2-3 ceiling if the command and velocity remain.