SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Amid a report that contractnegotiations have stalled between the Giants and Matt Cain, the right-hander acknowledgedthat he is really torn about whether to commit long-term or test the marketas a free agent after the season.
Asked whether he was optimistic or pessimistic that anextension could be reached before the April 6 season opener, Cain pondered thequestion for a time.
I guess I dont know, Cain told CSNBayArea.com. Imhesitant to answer that question because Im thinking about the times Ive hadplaying with these guys, growing up in this organization. Im definitely goingto enjoy this season to the fullest with whatever happens. But you also thinkabout going to free agency, and you might not have that chance again. So youreally are torn between the two sides. Itd be hard to say its one way or theother.
For now, the choice is not difficult. Although Cain declined todiscuss specific terms, he made it clear the Giants havent offered a contractin line with his perceived market value. Cain made one more thing clear: hisagents have a firm idea of what that value may be.
We feel like we do, he said. Yes, we do.
Industry sources estimated Cain would fetch more than 100million on the open market, perhaps exceeding a six-year, 120 milliondeal.
Fox Sports reported Wednesday night that the chances of theGiants re-signing Cain this spring were rapidly diminishing. A sourcedescribed that characterization as overly dramatic, but confirmed the two sidesremain far apart in talks. Although no further talks were scheduled, both sidesremain open to continuing the dialogue which by all accounts, has not beencontentious.
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Giants GM Brian Sabean has said the organization has thefinancial wherewithal to sign Cain to an extension and also commit long term toTim Lincecum, who will be a free agent after his two-year, 40.5 millioncontract expires following the 2013 season.
But with the Giants rotation becoming ultra-expensive, theteam would assume a major risk by signing Cain long term with a year remainingon his deal. They could mitigate some of that risk by waiting until theexclusive negotiating period in October to extend him.
Waiting runs its own risks, though.
Baseball sources expect the Giants archrival, the LosAngeles Dodgers, to be major free-agent spenders next winter once a newownership group drops more than 1 billion to purchase the franchise. There would be nothing more painful to Giants fans thanseeing Cain, one of their most loyal favorites, in Dodger blue. Such a signingcould tilt the balance of power in the NL West, too.
REWIND: EXTRAS -- Cain mum on contract
Cain said the negotiations, even this deep into the spring,havent weighed on his mind. His teammates agreed.
I think he has a really great ability to let things go,left-hander Barry Zito said. Hes always been able to do that. Hes a verymature pitcher and a mature guy."
Although many observers expected a swift resolution to Cain's contract situation, Zito said he wasn't surprised that it hasn't turned out that way.
Its more complicated than, The Giants want Cain and Cainwants to stay,'" Zito said. "This is a game and we try to keep it that way in most aspects.But the fact is, its a business. Youve got to be as tedious about gettingbusiness handled as you are about stuff on the field. Thats just a fact.
Cain would start the Giants home opener April 13 if theclub uses four starting pitchers in the first turn through the rotation. Thatsa possibility because they have a day off on their season-opening road trip,which could allow Ryan Vogelsong more time to build arm strength after missingthree weeks because of a lower back strain.