Matt Cain may leave San Francisco in 2012.
Though both Cain and the Giants have indicated a mutual desire to agree on a contract extension prior to April's Opening Day, sources have acknowledged that at present, Cain and the Giants are significantly far apart.
Though the Giants would like to sign Cain for "far less" than the nine-figure deal he is after, those same sources claim that Cain and agent Len Hardison are seeking considerably more than $100 million for a long-term deal.
With Cliff Lee ready to collect $21.5 million in 2012 and $25 million each year from 2013-2015, it is a player's market: even Giants teammate Tim Lincecum is set to earn $40.5 million over his next two seasons of service.
If no deal is reached by Opening Day, Cain will revisit the issue of free agency at the conclusion of the 2012 season, a fact that San Francisco is fully aware of and wants to prevent, lest the Giants come face-to-face with a personnel or financial nightmare come October.
To head off the financial hit such a move would cost, the Giants might revert to a certain five-month-old mindset of theirs: trade Cain for a cheaper star to fill a hole or bolster the team's struggling offense, which ranked 25th or worse in every category from home runs to OPS across the major leagues last season, including a second-to-last place showing in the Moneyball category, on-base percentage.
The following is a glimpse at five MLB clubs ready to pursue Cain if he enters the trade market with that fifth potential team a hallmark example of the classic phrase, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."