I may have thought the Giants should have waited before pulling the trigger on the Jeremy Affeldt and Brian Wilson contract extensions, but I have no complaints about the Giants’ decision to extend Matt Cain for three years and $27.5 million. The Giants will pay Cain $4.5 million this year, $8 million next year and $15 million in 2012.
In fact, I’m not entirely sure why Matt Cain accepted this deal. It buys out the first year of his free agency, when he will be 27. Assuming that Cain pitches in 2010 and 2011 the way he pitched 2009, which is not an unreasonable assumption since he was only 24 years old last year, he would have received a long (five or six year) contract for an average per season of more than the $15 million the Giants will be paying Cain in 2012.
In fact, probably as many or more major league scouts prefer Cain going forward as prefer Tim Lincecum. Cain is a big-body pitcher with the kind of easy motion and speed the scouts like, because as a group they hurt a little less often.
The only real cause for concern with Cain is that he’s now pitched three consecutive seasons of 200 or more innings before age 25. However, he hasn’t been overworked as No. 2 starters go, and he hasn’t shown any ill effects so far.
Most likely, the Giants’ decision to sign Lincecum, Affeldt and Wilson to multi-year deals had a lot to do with Cain’s decision to agree to a third year. The Giants are clearly committed to keeping the core of the Giants pitching staff together and building around them. I’m sure that’s appealing to Cain.
Also, it’s got to be hard to turn down that first really big contract as a professional player. While $27.5 million is not a big contract even in this market, at least when you consider that the Brewers gave Randy Wolf $29.75 million over three years early this past off-season. No one in his right mind would rather have Wolf over Cain for the next three years.
One thing we can be sure about is that Matt Cain likes pitching for the Giants. He certainly left money on the table by giving the Giants the first year of his free agency.