Dodgers sale adds drama to Cain talks

March 29, 2012, 2:08 am
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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. New Los Angeles Dodgers owner MagicJohnson pledged to knock on doors at 12:01 on the day the free-agent marketopens for business after the season.

Take heart, Giants fans. Maybe the Magic Man will have anold address for Matt Cain, who just sold his Diamond Heights house.

Or maybe the Giants will make sure that Cain never hits theopen market.

Based on what Im hearing, the Giants and Cain, perhapsnewly motivated by the Dodgers 2.15 billion sale, have picked up talks againon an extension that will keep the decorated right-hander under contract beyondthis season. Where it goes is anyones guess. But Ill stand by my earlierprediction that both parties have too much mutual interest for a deal not tohappen.

Its a negotiation that is being watched carefully by thePlayers Association. Thats because Cain signed what was viewed as a pair ofclub-friendly extensions earlier in his career. Its particularly important tothe union that Cain get close to market value because the Phillies Cole Hamelsis in an identical position, and the last thing the union wants is for onehigh-profile negotiation to undercut another.

My CSN colleague in Philly, Jim Salisbury, wrote aboutmovement in Hamels talks earlier Wednesday. Substitute Cain and Giants forHamels and Phillies and the story is pretty much identical.

With one major difference. The Dodgers are the Giants NLWest rivals. Seeing Cain in Dodger Blue would be a double concussion to theGiants and their fans.

Its not impossible to imagine the Dodgers new owners -- whojust dropped 2.15 billion, all cash, to purchase the club -- swooping in andtrying to sign both Cain and Hamels if theyre available over the winter,adding to Clayton Kershaw to form what would be a fearsome trio.

The Giants cant operate based on that fear. But they dohave to answer to their fans, who probably will sell out the season for thesecond consecutive year.

GM Brian Sabean has gone on record several times to say thathe will prioritize investing in his pitching staff. Thats the reason theGiants didnt pursue any multiyear contracts over the winter to free agentsgreat (Jose Reyes) or small (Michael Cuddyer). They were keeping their moneyfree for Tim Lincecum and Cain.

So they have to get Cain done especially after Lincecumagreed to just a two-year extension that didnt buy out any of his free-agentyears.

But the Giants also need to be careful. Whatever they giveCain will be an absolute floor for what Lincecum will demand in his next deal.The Giants also cannot in good conscience give Cain a contract at his full,open-market value today because they would be assuming some risk of injury in2012. Theyre entitled to a discount because of that.

Ive tried to divine numbers from both sides and neither iswilling to be so forthcoming. But my best educated guess is that its going totake five years and 110 million to make a deal come together by Opening Day.

There is general optimism among the Giants and Cain has beenas relaxed as Ive ever seen him. So perhaps Giants fans wont have anything toworry about in another week or so.

But perhaps its best if Cains new address is unlisted.