The Sports Daily > The Giants Cove
Matt Cain Signs for $127.5 million and Other Fun Facts

As reported by Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Giants just inked starting pitcher Matt Cain to a $127.5 million contract extension through 2017. Cain’s contract set an all time record for right-handed pitchers signing a multi-year deal; he will average $21.25 million a year throughout the term of the contract.

Matt Cain was scheduled to finish a three year $27.25m contract extension in 2012, earning $15m this season. Both sides agreed to drop the final year on that contract so that a $5m signing bonus could be added to the $15m base salary, which actually makes this a six year deal from 2012-2017. 

Matt Cain will get a $15m salary in 2012 plus the $5m signing bonus, and then receive $20m a year from 2013 through 2017. There is a club option in 2018 for $21m if specific inning numbers are met in 2016-17, or a $7.5m contract buyout.

As noted in a number of news stories on Cain’s signing he has put up excellent, workman-like numbers in his seven year career as a Giant starter. Cain sports a 1.196 career WHIP and posted five consecutive 200 inning seasons from 2007 through 2011. Since 2005, his first year in the big leagues, opposing hitters have averaged .227 with a .660 OPS in Cain’s starts and his ERA stands at 3.35.  

During the Giants World Championship run in 2010, Matt Cain had three starts, pitched 21.1 innings, gave up no earned runs (1 unearned run) and posted a victory over the Phillies in the NLCS and a win over the Texas Rangers in the World Series.

What is less universally highlighted is that Cain has a sub-.500 career win-loss record: 69 wins and 73 losses. Credit the Giants’ lack of offense for that anomaly. As recently as ten years ago, before advanced statistical analysis of actual player performance was recognized by the MLB establishment, a losing record alone would have likely been a disqualifier for any pitcher seeking a multi-year high end contract.

Matt Cain’s performance numbers would have made him a prime free agent target after the 2012 season for teams like the New York Yankees, the LA Dodgers, and the Chicago Cubs.

Two comparisons: 1) Contract structures– Matt Cain vs. Barry Zito; and, 2) Matt Cain’s numbers compared to Cole Hamels of the Philadelphia Phillies. Cain’s high loss total is a direct result of the poor offensive support he has received throughout his Giants’ career.

Hamels received a one year contract extension in 2012 for $15 and is expecting a multi-year contract offer similar to Cain’s from Philadelphia. If the Phillies don’t sign him, Hamels becomes a free agent at the end of this season. No doubt the Yankees, Dodgers, and Cubs are hoping that deal will not get done.

                       Contract term Total salary  Highest
salary year
Extension/buy out year Career win-loss at signing
Barry Zito   7 years
$126m 2013 $20m 2014
  $18m or $7m buyout
Matt Cain 6 years
$127.5m 2013-17 $20m 2018
  $21m or $7.5m buyout
Career W/L Career WHIP Career IP Career SO/BB Post season
win-loss WHIP
Cole Hamels 74-54 1.141 1,161.1 1,091 / 292 7-4  1.053
Matt Cain 69-73 1.196 1,317.1 1,085 / 473 2-0   .938