The first, a five year contract to Matt Cain, will guarantee the San Francisco Giants starter $112.5 million, and pay him as much as $127 million over six years if an option for 2018 vests (according to games started in 2017), or is picked up by the Giants. Either way, Cain’s contract pays him more than any other right handed pitcher in the history of baseball.
Later in the day, Joey Votto signed a contract that ensures he will be paid more money by the Cincinnati Reds over the next twelve years than any amount that has ever been committed to one player by one team at one time. A ten year, $225 million contract extension will kick in after the 2013 season when his current deal with the Reds expires.
As you might imagine, a lot of opinion was spilt over these record signings. Let’s start with reactions to the Matt Cain deal.
From Wendy Thurm at FanGraphs:
This is a good deal for both Cain and the Giants. Cain has financial security, a pitching coach with whom he works incredibly well, and a fan base in San Francisco that adores him. The Giants have locked-up one of the best right-handed starters in the game for the next five, maybe six, seasons. Sure, $21 million AAV is a lot of money. But the Giants were looking at a lot of payroll flexibility after the 2014 season and a farm system light on starting pitching prospects.
At $22 million per year over the next five years, Matt Cain essentially needs to avoid all problems and continue to pitch as well as he has previously. He might do just that, but there’s a real risk that his arm is going to fall or that his performance will head the wrong way sooner than later. There’s just too much risk here for a team like the Giants to take on this kind of contract, especially with so many other pressing needs in the organization.
I didn’t see how the Giants had a choice. Just about everything that’s going right for them at the current time has to do with the starting pitching. If the Giants were going to enjoy the packed houses and high television ratings, they were going to have to keep the starting pitching together. There certainly isn’t any coming out of the minors, at least not soon. There aren’t any Zack Wheelers left, the Giants had to sign Cain or make do with two lesser free agents and hope the fans didn’t notice. Say, Edwin Jackson and Roy Oswalt. That might have been a better baseball play. But from a PR perspective, the fallout of Cain succeeding elsewhere while his replacements floundered would be almost incalculable.
Here are reactions to the Joey Votto signing.
From Keith Law at ESPN:
Votto’s 10-year contract might look good for the next four or five seasons, but the back half of this deal threatens to be an albatross around the neck of a low-payroll team in a market that might generously be called middle of the pack. The Reds already had Votto under contract for 2012 and 2013 at well-below-market salaries, so the extension won’t begin in earnest until his age-30 season, by which point Votto will most likely have already peaked, meaning he’ll spend virtually the entire extension declining from his peak. Granted, Votto likely will still be a valuable player for the next four or five years, but he’s also a slow-footed first baseman, one of the worst-aging categories of players. His value likely will drop by half before the extension is halfway through, perhaps sooner given the propensity of position players to miss more time due to injuries in their 30s.
A few months ago, this deal would have looked crazy, and we’d have all been in shock at the Reds willingness to mortgage their long term future to chase after near term wins. However, this deal suggests the possibility of inflation going well over 5% down the line, as teams are basically guaranteeing themselves large portions of dead money in the future, and will have to increase their spending to offset the large amount of cash going to players who will probably not be overly productive at the ends of their careers. This deal is going to have lasting repercussions on the sport. Not only does it suggest that the Reds are going to remain competitive in the NL Central going forward, but it also resets the price expectations for every pre-free agent player in the sport.
We as fans of a mid-market franchise have labored under a delusion that to win, our team must work in cycles. Develop talent, deploy that talent, then sell off that talent for future talent when it gets too expensive. It’s a cruel reality, we all said, but one that can be managed if the cards are played right. But it’s not true. Not anymore. Signing Joey Votto to a long-term deal breaks that cycle. Not only can the Reds develop the talent, but they can retain that talent, too. They don’t have to trade him for prospects or hope to get draft picks when he signs elsewhere. He’s a Red, and he will be a Red for a long time.
And The Rest
A list of MLB milestones that we might get the opportunity to celebrate this season. [Baseball Prospectus]
With Frank Francisco set to get an MRI done on his swollen knee, there’s a very good chance that the New York Mets could rely on Jon Rauch to close out games in his absence. This is the nightmare scenario that the Toronto Blue Jays lived through last season. [Mets Blog]
Today in OriLOLes: Jake Arietta will be the team’s Opening Day starter. I imagine the honour is sort of like being the best hockey player in Hawaii. [Twitter]
Jesus Montero took a pitch to the head. [Getting Blanked]
You might think Albert Pujols would be the big draw this season for the Los Angeles Angels. Well, you’d be wrong. Clearly, it’s going to be the deep fried hot dogs they’re planning on selling. [Los Angeles Times]
Boston Red Sox reliever Andrew Bailey might require surgery on his right thumb, and could miss a good chunk of the season because of it. [Over The Monster]
Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon has never shied away from trying things differently, and this year will be no exception as he plans to experiment with a prototypical slugger hitting second in the order. [MLB.com]
The Cincinnati Reds are really trying their hardest to ruin Aroldis Chapman’s future. [Twitter]
With Michael Pineda’s injury, the New York Yankees have decided to go with a long man in the bullpen, and now must choose which reliever is most likely to fit the bill. [River Avenue Blues]
Why baseball is the best, and least exploitive, American sport. [New Republic]
The Washington Nationals may in fact not be a total bag of shit this year. Fancy that. [Washington Post]
Dave Studeman introduces us to the Drama Index. [Baseball Prospectus]
How Bobby Valentine spices up the old Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees rivalry. [CBS Sports]
Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Sam Fuld will be out four to five months after undergoing wrist surgery. [DRaysBay]
The best Triple A baseball stadiums. [Stadium Journey]
Finally, it’s Dan Uggla wearing Uggs. [Dan Uggla Wearing Uggs]