Giants CEO Larry Baer said both his club and Matt Cain's representatives are "both working very hard" to reach agreement on a contract extension for the star right-hander. Cain's future in San Francisco was a hot topic during Baer's web chat with fans on MLB.com (quotes passed along by Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com) and Baer stressed that the team is making every effort to lock Cain up to a multiyear deal.
"Our desire is for [Cain] to remain a Giant. There’s nothing we’ve seen from him that shows his desire is not to be. We just keep plugging along," Baer said. "There’s been a lot of mischaracterizations with hard-and-fast deadline or we’re lowballing him. Those are uneducated. I can’t promise it will or won’t happen — that’s going to ultimately be the process of negotiation and Matt’s decision."
"We’d like to keep the homegrown players that are performing and Matt Cain is at the top of the list."
We heard last week that negotiations between Cain and the Giants hadn't yielded much progress, though the two sides had recently started talking again. Baggarly noted that the MLBPA was keeping an eye on Cain's contract given that he has already signed two extensions considered to be below-market, which is perhaps a reason why Baer made a point of saying the Giants weren't "lowballing" Cain.
Still, Baggarly reports the Giants are again looking to pay Cain less than the estimated six-year, $120MM deal he'd find on the open market due to the additional risk the team would be taking on should the right-hander be injured before his extension begins in 2013. It's also possible the Giants could be waiting to see if the Phillies extend Cole Hamels, with that deal becoming the blueprint for a new Cain contract.
The Giants potentially face a looming threat in the NL West now that the Dodgers have been sold and will once again have money to spend, but Baer didn't think the Dodgers' new ownership group would immediately impact next winter's free agent market. In any case, San Francisco's focus is not on free agents, but rather locking up their own players.
"Fans would like certain free agents like Albert Pujols … but the first priority is homegrown players that we still think have a lot of productivity left," Baer said. "(But) we can’t control the overall economics of player and agent. It’s got to be something that allows us to field a team that will win.”