John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle is reporting on Twitter that the Giants will sign starter Matt Cain to a contract extension before Opening Day, and the deal is rumored to be in the area of five years, $110 million. Cain doesn’t turn 28 until the end of the season, and was eligible for free agency after the season is over. He is scheduled to make $15 million this season, his final year of a three year extension signed in March 2010.
Cain has been the second best Giants starter over the last few seasons, behind just Tim Lincecum. Over his seven season career, Cain has a 3.35 ERA (along with a 3.69 FIP), and has accrued 24.2 fWAR. While Cain isn’t as dominant as Lincecum (who has 27.9 fWAR in 300 fewer innings than Cain), he’s a durable number two starter. Cain has five straight seasons of at least 200 innings, and has made at least 30 starts in every full season of his career.
But jeez…$22 million a year? Cain is being paid like a four or five win pitcher, and he’s only reached that four win plateau twice in his career. His teammate Lincecum, who is four months younger than Cain with two less years of MLB tenure, is making $18 million this year and $22 million in 2013 after signing a two year extension this winter. By paying Cain, a largely inferior pitcher in comparison to Lincecum the same amount of money, what is that going to do for Lincecum’s value after the 2013 season? I’d assume he’ll be eyeing $24.4 million average value CC Sabathia is making in his current contract.
By the way, if that 5/110 value is correct, Cain’s average annual value of $22 million will be the fifth highest of all-time, behind Sabathia (twice), Cliff Lee, and Johan Santana. I wouldn’t put Cain in that class, would you?
UPDATE: the deal is signed, and contains a club option for a sixth season that can also vest. The deal is for $100 million over the five years, and the buyout on the option is $7.5 million.
UPDATE TWO: scratch that. the deal is for $112.5 million over five years ($22.5 million per year), and has a vesting option for the final season for $13.5 million. Throw it all together, along with his 2012 season that he’s already under contract for, and Cain can make a maximum of $141 million over the next seven years. There is also a full no-trade clause included.