Matt Cain Rumors

Giants Optimistic About New Deal With Cain

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.


Latest On Extension Talks For Lincecum, Cain

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.

Extension Candidate: Matt Cain

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.

Icon_13258478Earlier 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.



Giants Notes: Cain, Lincecum, Ishikawa

Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News has some details about the Giants' quest to lock up Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum to multiyear extensions.  The latest…

  • Cain's representatives spoke with Giants VP Bobby Evans during the Winter Meetings.  Baggarly says "all indications are that the Giants plan to be aggressive in locking up Cain before he reports to spring training."
  • The "benchmark" for a Cain extension seems to be the six-year, $99MM offer from the Marlins that C.J. Wilson reportedly turned down before signing with the Angels.  "Cain is younger and better than Wilson," an industry source tells Baggarly.  "He'd get $150 million on the open market."
  • When Cain signed his three-year, $27.25MM extension in March 2010, a fourth year (worth $16MM) was originally part of the contract but the Giants removed it from the deal due to worries about loose bodies found in a scan of Cain's throwing elbow.  Rick Landrum, one of Cain's representatives, didn't know why the Giants removed the fourth year since Cain's medical information hadn't changed, but said it wouldn't affect the current talks with the club.  For what it's worth, Cain has thrown 445 innings over the last two seasons and appears as durable as ever.
  • Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported earlier this week that Lincecum was seeking an eight-year contract.  Baggarly confirms this item and adds that the eight-year proposal "was believed to include opt-out language."  In another piece, Baggarly hears from Evans that while the Giants don't have a policy against such opt-out clauses, the club is "not inclined (because) it’s not strategically beneficial to us.”
  • "The feeling around the league" is that the Giants will eventually have to part ways with one of the two aces.
  • The team has had discussions about re-signing Travis Ishikawa, who is a minor league free agent.  Shoulder surgery limited Ishikawa to 56 games with Triple-A Fresno last season.

Giants Links: Beltran, Ross, Lincecum, Cain

The Giants extended the contracts of GM Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy through 2013 earlier today. Here's the latest from San Fran…

  • Sabean told John Shea of The San Francisco Chronicle that he will speak to Carlos Beltran's camp today (Twitter link). "It's a fluid situation as well as other conversations we're in," said the GM.
  • "There won't be any big splashes," said Sabean to Andrew Baggarly of The Mercury News (on Twitter). He added that there would be no "sticker shock" acquisitions.
  • Sabean is "not sure" if the team will be able to re-sign Cody Ross, according to Baggarly (on Twitter).
  • Bobby Evans, the Giants vice president of baseball operations, said the team has exchanged "broad numbers and ideas" with Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain about contract extensions, reports Baggarly (on Twitter). Lincecum is reportedly seeking a one or two-year deal.

Giants Attempting To Extend Matt Cain

While we heard earlier today that the Giants are more focused on a long-term extension for Tim Lincecum than fellow starter Matt Cain, team president Larry Baer says the club is trying to lock up Matt Cain as well, tweets SI.com's Jon Heyman. Heyman adds that the Giants may prefer deals of approximately four years.

Here are a few other items of interest from the National League West:

  • The Padres are preparing for the Rule 5 draft with some minor moves. They've requested waivers on Alberto Gonzalez, according to MLB.com's Corey Brock (Twitter link), and will remove Jeremy Hermida from the roster later in the week, according to Dan Hayes of the North County Times (via Twitter).
  • Rusty Ryal signed a minor league deal with the Diamondbacks after having spent a year in Japan, reports Matt Eddy of Baseball America (on Twitter).
  • The Rockies met with Milton Bradley's agents today, tweets Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.

NL West Rumors: Lincecum, Rockies, Dodgers

The latest out of the NL West…


“No Evidence” Giants Would Trade Lincecum Or Cain

Despite their desperate need for offense, SI.com's Jon Heyman says (on Twitter) there's no evidence the Giants would trade either Tim Lincecum or Matt Cain this offseason. One GM went so far as to say there's "no point even asking."

Cain, 27, will earn $15MM in 2012 before becoming a free agent next winter. Lincecum, also 27, is in line for a historic arbitration payday and won't hit free agency until after the 2013 season. The two right-handers have thrown at least 200 innings in each of the past four seasons, and only once did they post an ERA higher than 3.45 (Cain in 2008). In terms of wins over replacement, Lincecum (24.7) and Cain (15.9) have been the 5th and 15th most valuable pitchers in baseball since the start of 2008, respectively.

Earlier this month, both Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports and Dave Cameron of FanGraphs explored the possibility of the Giants trading Lincecum for multiple pieces to improve their roster overall.


Giants Notes: Pujols, Cain, Lincecum, Zito

Giants GM Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy discussed the 2011 season at a year-in-review press conference today and Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle has the details:

  • The Giants are going to focus on the pitching staff before addressing the offense this winter.
  • There are strong indications that the Giants won’t push for free agents Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols, according to Schulman.
  • Sabean won’t rule out a long-term deal for Tim Lincecum, but negotiations with Matt Cain will be a higher priority, since Cain is eligible for free agency one year from now. Lincecum appears to prefer short-term deals anyway.
  • Barry Zito and non-tender candidate Jonathan Sanchez will be in Spring Training competing for the rotation, according to Sabean. This is the strongest indication yet that Sanchez will be tendered a contract this offseason. His salary will likely surpass $6MM in 2012.
  • Sabean and Bochy said Aubrey Huff didn’t do enough to get in shape last offseason and they have told him to do more this winter.
  • The Giants have said they want to upgrade in center field and the leadoff spot. They don’t consider Justin Christian to be the solution, so Schulman wonders if Coco Crisp could be a fit.
  • If the Giants don’t pick up Jeremy Affeldt’s $5MM option, they’ll renegotiate another deal with him. As I explained earlier in the month, Affeldt would be in position to command a multiyear deal in free agency if the Giants allow him to hit the open market.
  • The Giants will look to add second base depth, though they may not be willing to meet Jeff Keppinger’s asking price.
  • Sabean says the Giants will give Cody Ross "due consideration" as a free agent, according to Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News (on Twitter).

2011 Vestings Options Update

The season started with nine vesting options to watch, but we're down to just five a little beyond the season's halfway point…

  • Trever Miller, Cardinals. The southpaw's $2MM option vests with 45 appearances. He's appeared in 31 of the team's 85 games, so he's on pace for 59. He should get there easily.
  • Alex Cora, Mets. Cora's $2MM option vests with 80 games (not necessarily starts), and he's already appeared in 48. He's on pace for 91 games. Luis Castillo's foot and Ruben Tejada's emergence could stand in Cora's way.
  • Darren Oliver, Rangers. His $3.25MM option will lock in with 59 appearances. He's already appeared in 37 games, so he should get there without a problem.
  • Ramon Hernandez, Reds. Hernandez must play in 120 games for his $3.25MM option to vest. He's appeared in just 57 of Cincinnati's first 86 contests, putting him on pace for 107 games. 
  • Magglio Ordonez, Tigers. Ordonez's $15MM option vests with 135 starts or 540 plate appearances. He's on pace for 141 and 615, respectively, so it'll take a lengthy stint on the disabled list to knock him off track.

The vesting options for Kerry Wood, Brian Fuentes, Billy Wagner, and Matt Cain have already been addressed.