San Francisco Giants: Matt Cain Looking for Jered Weaver-Type Contract

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San Francisco Giants: Matt Cain Looking for Jered Weaver-Type Contract
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Matt Cain is looking for a deal similar to Jered Weaver's deal with the Angels

The big news made by the San Francisco Giants yesterday was that the club and two-time Cy Young award winner Tim Lincecum agreed on a two-year, $40.5 million contract.

The deal will take Lincecum through his last two years of arbitration as well as guarantee cost certainty for the Giants. Lincecum's agent has also said that they're still open to exploring a long-term contract for the ace to stay in San Francisco.

So, with Lincecum's contract squared away for the time being, the Giants have now shifted their attention towards locking up Matt Cain, who's slated for free agency following the 2012 season.

Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News reported that both the Giants and Cain's representatives think a deal similar to the one that Jered Weaver recently signed to stay with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim would be fair for both parties.

Weaver's deal was for five years and $85 million. If the Giants are able to come to a similar agreement with Cain, would it be a fair deal for the Giants?

Despite the disparity in win-loss record (Weaver has a career 82-47 record, compared to Cain's 69-73 record)—which is not necessarily an indicator of pitching ability—both Cain and Weaver are very comparable.

Weaver has pitched 1131.2 innings, struck out 977 batters, walked 308 batters, allowed 121 home runs and posted a 3.31 ERA throughout his career.

Cain has thrown 1317.1 innings, struck out 1,085 batters, walked 473 batters, given up 108 home runs and put up a 3.35 ERA.

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Weaver signed a five-year, $85 million deal with the Angels

In terms of ratio stats, Weaver has career averages of 7.8 K/9IP, 2.4 BB/9IP, 1.0 HR/9IP and a 3.17 K/BB ratio.

Cain's posted ratio stats of 7.4 K/9IP, 3.2 BB/9IP, 0.7 HR/9IP and a 2.29 K/BB ratio.

Both players are fairly comparable in cumulative standard pitching and ratio stats. Weaver strikes out a few more hitters and walks a few less hitters than Cain, while Cain has allowed less home runs than Weaver.

But with their respective ERAs only .04 apart, it's obvious that their overall production is similar.

Innings pitched can be a barometer that often gets overlooked. But as in the other categories examined, there isn't much of a disparity there either. Cain averages 220 innings per a 162 game season, while Weaver averages 217 innings per a 162 game season.

Next, let's examine the factors that are out of the pitcher's control.

In this context, there are two that come to mind. First, there's the home park. According to ESPN's park factors AT&T Park (San Francisco's home) is the best pitcher's park. Angel Stadium of Anaheim is the fourth-best pitcher's park. Again, not much difference between the two.

Baseball-Reference.com's ERA+ measures a pitcher's ERA while adjusting to a pitcher's home ballpark. Cain has a career ERA+ of 125. Weaver's career ERA+ is 128. There's not much of a difference there.

The other factor that is out of a pitcher's control is his team's defense and his BABIP (Batting Average on balls in play). Fangraphs' FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) normalizes for both these factors.

Weaver has a career BABIP of .276 and a career FIP of 3.64. Cain, on the other hand, has a career BABIP of .265 and a career FIP of 3.69. Once again, the similarities are striking.

Cain and Weaver are very comparable pitchers, so it would make sense that their contracts are similar. If anything, a potential Weaver-like deal for Cain would be more team-friendly for the Giants than Weaver's deal is with the Angels. Cain is two years younger than Weaver, so the Giants would be paying the same money, but paying for more prime years and less decline years.

At this point it's just educated speculation that Cain and the Giants are open to a deal similar to Weaver's with the Angels. But if it's true, then the Giants will be getting an excellent pitcher, in the prime of his career, at fair market value.

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