Matt Cain Rumors


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.



Checking In On The Latest $100MM Contracts

Every year a few players join baseball’s exclusive $100MM club with free agent deals and mega-extensions. Last offseason was no different -- eight players signed nine figure deals. The contracts were all for five years or more, so it’s far too early to call them successes or failures. As the season approaches its halfway point, let’s check in on baseball’s newest $100MM contracts:

  • Albert Pujols, ten-year, $240MM contract - Pujols had a painfully slow start, but he has raised his batting line to a respectable .270/.332/.461. His last 40 games have been legitimately Pujols-like: 11 home runs and an OPS over 1.000.
  • Joey Votto, ten-year, $225MM extension - It's impossible to have a complete discussion about baseball's best hitters without considering Votto. The 28-year-old leads the National League in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, walks, doubles and wOBA, so this deal couldn't be going any better for the Reds.
  • Prince Fielder, nine-year, $214MM contract - Fielder continues to hit at an All-Star level, though he has a relatively modest total of 12 home runs. Unfortunately for Tigers fans Mike Ilitch's bold investment hasn't been enough to keep the team above .500.
  • Matt Kemp, eight-year, $160MM extension - Hamstring issues have sidelined Kemp, who was the best hitter in the National League for the first month of the season.
  • C.C. Sabathia, five-year, $122MM extension - Sabathia, now on the disabled list with a strained groin, is in the midst of yet another tremendous season. He has a 3.45 ERA with 8.8 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 107 innings.
  • Matt Cain, five-year, $112.5MM extension - Cain's enjoying his best season as a Major Leaguer. He has a career-best ERA (2.27), strikeout rate (9.0 K/9) and walk rate (1.9 BB/9) through 107 innings. The Giants' decision to invest in Cain still looks like a good one.
  • Jose Reyes, six-year, $106MM extension - Reyes' offensive numbers have dropped off across the board this year, no thanks to a 60 point dip in batting average on balls in play.
  • Ryan Zimmerman, six-year, $100MM extension - Zimmerman's off to a slow start at the plate despite two home runs in his past three games. He missed two weeks with shoulder soreness earlier in the year and has just a .235/.297/.350 batting line.



Quick Hits: Hamels, Athletics, McCarthy, Rockies

Stephen Strasburg looked almost human tonight, allowing two runs in six innings against the Astros to raise his ERA all the way up to 0.95 for the season.  Strasburg still picked up the win in a 6-3 Nationals victory and, as a bonus, got a hilarious new nickname for his curveball, courtesy of MLB Network's Jerry Manuel.

Here are a few odds and ends from around the Majors...

  • Matt Cain figures Cole Hamels' next contract (whether with the Phillies or on the free agent market) will earn the southpaw more than Cain's recent extension with the Giants, reports MLB.com's Todd Zolecki.  "History-wise, lefties have always brought more than a righty," Cain said. "It's just the nature of the game."  Cain said he was happy to sign his extension and remain in San Francisco for the long-term as free agency is "not always a beautiful thing."
  • The Athletics' stadium issue and possible move to San Jose will not be on the agenda at the next owners meetings, tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.  Earlier today, Slusser reported that the A's were pushing to have the issue subjected to a vote of other owners so they could have the issue settled once and for all.
  • ESPN's Buster Olney (via Twitter) thinks the A's could explore a multiyear contract with Brandon McCarthy.  The right-hander has pitched very well in his time in Oakland, posting a 3.24 ERA and a 4.59 K/BB ratio in 28 starts.  MLBTR's Tim Dierkes considered McCarthy as an extension candidate in February.
  • The Rockies' starting pitching woes could be solved by three southpaw prospects --- Drew Pomeranz, Christian Friedrich and Tyler Matzek, writes Troy Renck of the Denver Post.
  • Also from Renck, he notes that Troy Tulowitzki's six-year extension from the Rockies in 2010 drew criticism at the time, but now could be seen as a bargain in the wake of the mega-deals given to Albert Pujols and Joey Votto.
  • The Reds are one of several preseason contenders off to a slow start, but Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News says it's far too early for fans to panic.



Quick Hits: Oswalt, Cain, Soria, Votto, McCourt

We're less than 24 hours away from the first official game at Marlins Park, as the Fish show off their new ballpark in their season opener against the World Series champion Cardinals.  Here are some news bits to tide us over in the meantime...

  • The Giants' extension with Matt Cain is "a sound deal," several non-San Francisco team executives tell ESPN's Buster Olney (via Twitter).
  • Roy Oswalt will likely need around 60 days of preparation time to be ready to pitch, a source tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link).  This fits with Oswalt's previous statement about looking at a midseason return.
  • Royals closer Joakim Soria underwent Tommy John surgery today and the medical team "couldn't have been more pleased" with the procedure, a club source tells MLB.com's Dick Kaegel.  Soria will miss the entire 2012 season recovering from the surgery.
  • Joey Votto's 10-year, $225MM extension with the Reds is "one of the crazier seeming contracts in baseball history," writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.  Heyman talks to several anonymous team executives about the contract, with theories ranging from the Reds being worried about the Dodgers' aggressive new ownership to the Reds being able to afford Votto thanks to several years of collecting luxury tax payments.  Then again, one competing GM says simply, "The Reds look like they have no plan."
  • Attorneys for Major League Baseball made a court filing arguing that the Dodgers shouldn't be allowed to emerge from bankruptcy until the team pays back $8.3MM worth of bills from the league, reports Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.
  • Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch looks at how some recent big contracts around baseball could impact the Cardinals.  Miklasz thinks that Cain's deal will make Adam Wainwright's next contract even more expensive, but I don't agree, given that Wainwright is three years older and has a more checkered injury history.
  • Several Padres players, as well as several players from the entire NL West and AL West, are discussed by opposing scouts in a chat with Tom Krasovic of Inside The Padres.



NL East Notes: Lannan, Johnson, Hamels

With Jonathon Niese closing in on a contract extension with the Mets, let's look at some other news from around the NL East...

  • The Nationals announced they were optioning John Lannan to the minors, (a move first reported by Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post), which will make Ross Detwiler the club's fifth starter.  In a separate item, Kilgore examines the move and concludes "the Nationals quite clearly put financial interest last and what they believed to be the best baseball decision first."
  • The move is sure to spur on more rumors that the Nationals could trade Lannan, though GM Mike Rizzo told reporters (including Mark Zuckerman of CSN Washington) that Detwiler won the job and that Lannan has drawn only "mild interest" on the trade market.  MLB.com's Bill Ladson reports that the Nats were asking a high price for Lannan, and other teams weren't willing to part with a starting position player in exchange for the southpaw.  (Both links are to Twitter.)
  • Josh Johnson hasn't given any thought to how Matt Cain's extension with the Giants may impact any possible new deal between himself and the Marlins, reports MLB.com's Joe Frisaro.  Johnson signed a four-year, $39MM extension with Miami that runs through the 2013 season.  Even if Johnson pitches up to form over the next two seasons, you'd have to figure that his injury history will limit the size and value of a contract extension. 
  • The Phillies offered Cole Hamels an extension worth "Jered Weaver money" (five years, $85MM) late last season, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.  Hamels now has a strong case for an extension worth at least as much as Cain's deal, Heyman notes.  The Giants' initial offer to Cain, Heyman says, was reportedly worth less than $65MM.
  • From earlier today, Chad Durbin switched NL East teams, signing with the Braves after being released by the Nationals.



Olney On Votto, Cain, Hamels

Two National League stars signed massive extensions yesterday and Buster Olney discusses the two deals in his latest column at ESPN.com. Some highlights, starting with Joey Votto's $225MM deal:

  • “At some point this contract will be a drag on a team in a mid-market,” one talent evaluator told Olney. Another called the deal “nuts,” and a third said it’s “absolute insanity.” One supporter of the deal said letting Votto go would have crushed the franchise.
  • If the Giants hadn’t offered Matt Cain a record-setting deal, he would have obtained a nine-figure deal elsewhere. Olney suggests it’d be hard to find a more consistent pitcher than Cain.
  • Talks between the Phillies and Cole Hamels have been dormant in recent weeks, but could be rekindled at any time. Olney finds it hard to imagine that an offer worth markedly less than Cain’s $112.5MM deal would have much appeal to Hamels and agent John Boggs. Ruben Amaro Jr. recently said the Phillies can afford three $20MM starters.



Quick Hits: Cain, Lester, Bumgarner, Votto, Vazquez

We saw not one, but two historic contract extensions handed out today. Here's the latest from around the league...



Giants To Extend Matt Cain

7:16pm: Shea hears that the sixth year option will not vest if Cain finishes the fifth year of the contract on the disabled list with an elbow or shoulder injury (Twitter link).

2:04pm: The Giants announced that they have agreed to a five-year extension with Matt Cain. Cain's deal guarantees him $112.5MM in new money through 2017, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). The deal, which establishes a record for right-handed pitchers, includes a club/vesting player option for 2018. Landon Williams, Rick Landrum and Jeff Berry of CAA Sports represent Cain, who had been scheduled to hit free agency following the 2012 season.

“Ensuring that Matt remained a Giant beyond this season was a top priority for the organization," Giants GM Brian Sabean said via press release. "Matt is an integral part of the team whose performance on the mound will be one of the keys to our success for years to come.”

Cain has emerged as a frontline starter in recent years. The 27-year-old has completed 200 innings in five consecutive seasons, and has impressive career rate stats. He consistently outperforms his strong peripheral stats to post low ERAs. Most recently, he posted a 2.88 ERA with 7.3 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and a 41.7% ground ball rate in 221 2/3 innings last year. 

The deal figures to affect at least two other ace pitchers: Tim Lincecum and Cole Hamels. Lincecum is on track for free agency following the 2013 season and Hamels will be eligible for free agency this winter. Should Hamels reach a deal with the Phillies, it will presumably mirror Cain's contract. Zack Greinke could also use Cain's deal as a reference point in talks with the Brewers.

If Cain had tested the market next offseason, teams such as the Dodgers and Yankees could have entered the bidding. Instead teams seeking pitching in free agency will turn their attention to the likes of Hamels, Greinke and Anibal Sanchez.

Today's deal breaks Kevin Brown's long-standing record for right-handed pitchers. Brown signed a seven-year, $105MM contract following the 1998 season.

Cain obtains a signing bonus of $5MM and his 2012 salary of $15MM remains unchanged, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links). The right-hander will earn $20MM annually from 2013-17 and the deal includes a $21MM option with a $7.5MM buyout for 2018, according to Rosenthal. The 2018 option will vest if Cain is healthy in 2017, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter). Otherwise it becomes a club option. Cain has full no-trade protection, according to Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and MLB Network Radio (Twitter link).

Luke Adams of MLBTR anticipated the terms of the upcoming extension with considerable accuracy in December. John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle first reported that the sides would agree to terms.



Talks Accelerate Between Giants, Cain

The volume of dialogue has increased between the Giants and Matt Cain's representatives as Friday's  deadline edges near, sources tell Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com.  While the deadline of Friday has been characterized as soft, the pitcher would like talks to be wrapped up prior to the Giants' Opening Day.

Sources tell Baggarly that Cain's camp has not shown any signs of lowering their asking price.  It's believed that five years and $100MM is the floor in negotiations and it's not known if the Giants have even offered that much.  In a chat with fans on Thursday, CEO Larry Baer insisted the club was not making "lowball" offers to the 27-year-old.



Cain Expected To Sign Five-Year Deal

The Giants will sign right-hander Matt Cain to an extension "in the neighborhood of" five years and $110MM by Opening Day, two sources tell John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter). Landon Williams and Rick Landrum of CAA Sports represent Cain, who had been scheduled to hit free agency following the 2012 season.

Cain has emerged as a frontline starter in recent years and the upcoming deal would establish a record for right-handed pitchers, as long as it's worth more than $105MM. The 27-year-old has completed 200 innings in five consecutive seasons, and has impressive career rate stats. He consistently outperforms his strong peripheral stats to post low ERAs. Most recently, he posted a 2.88 ERA with 7.3 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and a 41.7% ground ball rate in 221 2/3 innings last year. 

The deal figures to affect at least two other ace pitchers: Tim Lincecum and Cole Hamels. Lincecum is on track for free agency following the 2013 season and Hamels will be eligible for free agency this winter. Should Hamels reach a deal with the Phillies, it will presumably mirror Cain's contract. Zack Greinke could also use Cain's deal as a reference point in talks with the Brewers.

Cain will earn $15MM in 2012. Luke Adams of MLBTR anticipated the terms of the upcoming extension with considerable accuracy in December.

This post was originally published on April 2nd, 2012.









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