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Matt Cain Rumors
It appeared earlier this week that the Giants and Matt Cain had built momentum toward an extension. One person in the know even said there's no chance the 2013 free agent signs for less than $100MM. Here are today's updates on talks between Cain, the Giants and teammate Madison Bumgarner:
- The Giants agreed to a one-year deal with Bumgarner, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The pre-arbitration eligible starter will earn $575K or so in 2012.
- There's no hard deadline for talks with Cain, Schulman adds. Cain would like negotiations to be done with by Opening Day.
- Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com suggests the Giants could work out extensions for Cain and Bumgarner within the week. The sides have been working late and the Giants like package announcements, Baggarly tweets. MLBTR has previewed possible extensions for Cain and Bumgarner this past offseason.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports points out that Kevin Brown, the only right-handed pitcher in history to obtain a $100MM deal, signed his contract 13 years ago and suggests the market is ready for a correction by a present-day right-hander such as Cain. The Giants are privately optimistic that they'll lock Cain up, Rosenthal writes.
From what I’ve been told, the two sides have reached greater common ground in recent weeks. Cain wants to stay and the Giants have the wherewithal to keep him. Those tend to be the most important factors. It’ll be a surprise to many, both in the organization and out, if Cain’s deal doesn’t get done before the season starts.
The Giants open the season in Arizona one month from today. Cain, a CAA Sports client, has signed extensions with the Giants twice before. The second contract bought out one free agent year, giving Cain a $15MM salary in 2012 before he's eligible for free agency. As a 27-year-old in his prime, Cain should become the seventh pitcher in baseball history to sign for more than $100MM. There's "no shot" he signs for less, a person familiar with the situation told Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
On this day in 2009, the Dodgers agreed to re-sign Manny Ramirez to a two-year, $45MM contract. Ramirez's time in Los Angeles came to an end in August of 2010 when he was claimed off of waivers by the White Sox. As a Dodger, the slugger hit .322/.433/.580 with 44 homers in 223 games. Here's a look at some items out of the AL and NL West..
- Yoenis Cespedes was warmly welcomed by Manny, writes Yahoo's Steve Henson. Ramirez discussed hitting extensively with his new friend, and ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tweets that Cespedes says it's an "honor" to play with Ramirez. (Twitter link).
- There was a belief around baseball that Matt Cain was going to be an easy sign for the Giants, but that now seems less certain, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Word was that the hurler might even be prepared to sign back with the Giants for less than $100MM but that seems far less likely.
- If the league upholds Jairo Beras' contract with the Rangers, sources with several teams have said that they will be furious, writes Ben Badler of Baseball America. MLB has granted some players leniency in the past if they willingly came forward with a new age or a new identity, but that does not appear to be the case in this situation.
- Rangers General Manager Jon Daniels says that multiple teams have inquired on David Murphy, writes MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. Even though Murphy is slated to come off of the bench, Daniels says that the outfielder is a huge part of the club. The Twins inquired on Murphy back in December but Texas was unwilling to compromise their outfield depth.
- Angel Villalona's name plate has been removed from his locker and that's a sign that his visa issue isn't close to being resolved, tweets Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com. The Giants first baseman is facing legal trouble in his native Dominican Republic.
- The Athletics formally introduced Cespedes today and the outfielder said that Miguel Tejada told him that Oakland was a good organization to grow up in, tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.
On this date in 1999, the Diamondbacks acquired Tony Womack from the Pirates for Jason Boyd and a minor leaguer. Womack hit .269/.314/.362 in five seasons with the D'Backs, helping the club to the 2001 World Championship. Here's the latest from the NL West…
- Giants CEO Larry Baer wouldn't give away much regarding contract talks with Matt Cain except to say that they are "back and forth" and "ongoing," tweets Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com.
- "I'm going to be respectful of the process here," said Baer to reporters (including MLB.com's Chris Haft) when asked about the Giants potentially relinquishing territorial rights to San Jose, allowing the Athletics to move. "You know, I think that's really important. The game is bigger than any internal machinations."
- "I can't tell you what will happen with that," said Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier to MLB.com's Ken Gurnick when asked about signing a contract extension after the team is sold at the end of April. "The only thing I can change is the way I play. Today is today, and that's all I can handle. I'm here to play for today." Ethier can become a free agent after the season.
- Carlos Quentin is returning home to Southern California following his trade to the Padres, and Don Norcross of The San Diego Union-Tribune wrote about the excitement he brings to the team.
Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton, a free agent after this season, discussed his contract earlier today, intimating that he won't take a hometown discount to remain in Texas. It should make for an interesting season for the All-Star. Here are some other links from around the West divisions …
- Giants pitcher Matt Cain's agents, Landon Williams and Rick Landrum, have joined CAA Sports, according to Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal, and are continuing extension negotiations on behalf of the right-hander under that company (Twitter links). As with Hamilton, Cain hinted earlier this month that he's not inclined to accept a club-friendly deal.
- With Chris Iannetta on board as the Angels' starting catcher, it looks like Hank Conger will begin the season in the minors so as to avoid riding the bench in the Majors, writes Mark Saxon of ESPNLA.com. Conger could be expendable, Saxon adds, if Iannetta and the Halos exercise their $5MM mutual option for 2013.
- Athletics starter Brandon McCarthy's transition from a disappointing prospect to a post-hype breakout star in 2011 is documented by Eddie Matz of ESPN The Magazine. McCarthy overhauled his pitching approach after studying up on sabermetrics, parlaying his 2011 success (AL-best 2.86 FIP) into a $4.275MM arbitration reward for 2012 and a shot at a possible long-term extension.
The Giants made their roster available to the media today, on the eve of the club's annual FanFest event. Here's latest on the 2010 World Champs…
- “We’ve talked … and it’s a process,” said Matt Cain to reporters (including Andrew Baggarly of The Mercury News) when asked about an extension. “We’ll see what’s going to happen. We’re definitely here for this year.”
- The right-hander did stop short of saying he'll give the team a hometown discount. “That’s tough,” he said. “You definitely love being in San Francisco, and we do. We have a year till free agency. That’s something as a player you think about, having that opportunity. It’s hard to say what will happen in these next several months.”
- “Budget won’t be a factor," said GM Brian Sabean when asked about signing both Cain and Tim Lincecum long-term. "We’ll have enough wherewithal in the budget that we won’t have to pick. Whether that happens, I can’t predict. But we have it in the budget to sign both players.”
- Sabean also said that increasing payroll to add players in midseason has "always been possible with our ownership group" according to John Shea of The San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter).
- The Giants wanted Carlos Beltran back as a left fielder, says Shea (on Twitter). They were willing to give him two years, but not the $26MM the Cardinals gave him.
There are early indications that the Giants will have a decent or better chance to lock Matt Cain on another long-term deal, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Heyman adds that the club offered Tim Lincecum a deal worth at least $100MM over five years but is now focusing on one- and two-year deals after being rebuffed.
Giants people are saying only that talks are "ongoing'' with Cain, but there seems to be a fair amount of optimism they can keep Cain for less than $20MM a season. Cain already took one long team-friendly deal when he agreed to a three-year, $27.25MM contract prior to the 2010 season. Our own Luke Adams recently explored what it would take for the Giants to lock the 27-year-old up with a new deal.
However, Lincecum seems more likely to wind up with a two-year deal rather than sign a contract into his free-agent years. We've heard all offseason that the pitcher is in search of a short-term deal. Yesterday we learned that the Giants offered a two-year, $40MM contract and Lincecum's representatives countered with a two-year, $44MM offer.
Heyman writes that baseball people believe that Cain could match Cliff Lee's $120MM deal as a free agent if he tests the market after the year, but word is that he badly wants to stay in San Francisco. Those in the industry also believe that if Lincecum can put together two more outstanding years, he can become the game's first $200MM pitcher on the open market in 2013.
Ryan Vogelsong signed a minor league deal with the Giants exactly one year ago on his way to a breakout season. The 34-year-old pitched 179 2/3 innings with a 2.71 ERA, 7.0 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 2012. The Giants liked what they saw and agreed to terms on a two-year, $8.3MM extension earlier this evening. Here's a look ahead to a couple of the Giants' other extension candidates via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News…
- Tim Lincecum's agent said the Giants haven’t had dialogue with Lincecum in at least a month, Baggarly reports.
- Giants VP of Baseball Operations Bobby Evans said the team hopes an arbitration hearing with Lincecum won't be necessary. "You do the best you can to find common ground, I remain optimistic we will," Evans said.
- Evans said he has had "healthy, ongoing dialogue" with the representatives for Matt Cain about an extension, Baggarly reports. MLBTR’s Luke Adams looked ahead to a possible Cain extension last month.
- Madison Bumgarner is also an extension candidate, as MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes explained.
Heading into this offseason, pundits seemed unable to agree whether C.J. Wilson or Yu Darvish was the most desirable pitcher available to MLB teams. While a case could be made for either hurler, they likely would've been battling for second place had Giants right-hander Matt Cain not signed a contract extension delaying his free agency by a year. Prior to the 2010 season, Cain and the Giants agreed to a three-year, $27.25MM deal that will make him a free agent after 2012, rather than 2011.
The extension, Cain's second with the team, has worked out splendidly for San Francisco. The 27-year-old enjoyed arguably his best two seasons in 2010 and 2011, earning Cy Young votes for the first time while posting a 3.01 ERA, 7.2 K/9, and just 2.5 BB/9 in 66 starts. Cain will make $15MM in 2012, but if the Giants hope to keep him past next year, they'll have to commit significantly more money than that.
Earlier this month, Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News reported that the Giants figure to be aggressive in their attempts to lock up Cain before Spring Training. The club has also been said to prefer extensions of about four years, so what would a long-term deal for Cain look like?
The going rate for elite arms suggests Cain could aim for $20MM+ annually on a long-term deal on the open market if he pitches well again in 2012. Baggarly spoke to an executive who thought the Landon Williams client could land a $150MM deal as a free agent, and while that prediction may be a little bullish, it's not out of the realm of possibility. Cain will turn just 28 as the 2012 season ends, and recent marquee free agents like Cliff Lee and C.C. Sabathia signed for annual average values of about $23-24MM. Meanwhile, pitchers that signed extensions with their current teams, such as Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez, and Roy Halladay, will make about $20MM for most of their free agent years. Although Cain may not quite be in the same company of those Cy Young winners, he certainly has a stronger track record than Wilson, whose new contract exceeds $15MM in annual average value and reportedly wasn't even his largest offer.
If we assume the Giants can get Cain to agree to a four-year deal, not including 2012, they could be looking at a commitment in the neighborhood of $100MM over the next five years — $15MM for 2012, $20MM each for the next four, and maybe a $5MM buyout on a 2017 option. Cain has played it relatively safe with his previous contract extensions, so perhaps he'd pass up a chance at the open market to remain with the Giants long-term at that price.
What remains to be seen, however, is whether the Giants even be willing to offer such a contract. Barry Zito still has $46MM remaining on his seven-year deal, Madison Bumgarner's cost will soon increase significantly (potentially next winter as a Super Two), and most importantly, the Giants would like to lock up two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum, who could soon become the most expensive of all their starters. Given the club's struggles to produce offensively in recent years, it may not be viable to tie up so much money in the starting rotation.
In his previously linked piece, Baggarly wrote that there's a "feeling around the league" San Francisco will have to part with either Cain or Lincecum at some point, rather than keeping both on long-term deals. If that's the case, perhaps the Giants will tip their hand before the season begins — each of Cain's past two extensions were inked in March, before Opening Day.
Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.