First Joey Votto and now Matt Cain.
Said to be working hard on contract negotiations over the weekend, the Giants just made things official with Cain by announcing a five-year, $112.5 million extension with a sixth-year vesting option.
Cain was already set to earn $15 million this season in the final year of a three-year, $27 million extension signed in March of 2010. That deal covered Cain’s final two arbitration eligible seasons and his first year of free agency. This five-year extension will keep him in San Francisco through his age-32 season in 2017 and the 2018 option includes a $7.5 million buyout.
Obviously any $100 million-plus investment in a pitcher is extremely risky and $22 million per season is a ton, especially for a team that learned (and is still learning) the hard way with Barry Zito, but limiting the commitment to five years and avoiding Cain’s mid-30s lessens the Giants’ risk somewhat and he’s been remarkably consistent with a 3.35 career ERA and at least 190 innings in each of his six full seasons.
On a related note, the Phillies would no doubt be thrilled if Cole Hamels accepted a five-year, $112.5 million deal. Hamels has better secondary numbers than Cain and has pitched in a hitter-friendly ballpark, but their raw numbers are very similar: 3.39 ERA in 1,161 innings for Hamels. 3.35 ERA in 1,317 innings for Cain.
The Dodgers have pulled off their first blockbuster trade of the offseason, sending Brandon McCarthy, Scott Kazmir, Charlie Culberson, Adrian Gonzalez and cash considerations to the Braves for Matt Kemp, per announcements from both teams. The Braves are set to designate Gonzalez for assignment on Monday, making him a free agent.
Kemp, 33, had a down year with the Braves in 2017, hitting a career-low -0.5 fWAR in 115 games with the club. At the plate, he slashed a modest .276/.318/.463 with 19 home runs and a .781 OPS through 467 plate appearances, but was hampered by a nagging left hamstring strain through most of the season. This will be his 10th campaign with the Dodgers.
Whether or not Kemp can rebound during his second stint in Los Angeles is almost beside the point, however. The deal is effectively a salary dump to end all salary dumps. Offloading multiple one-year contracts for McCarthy, Kazmir and Gonzalez should bring the Dodgers back under the $197 million luxury tax threshold and position them to make a run at some of the big fish in next year’s free agent pool. It’s also worth noting that they may not keep Kemp around for long — per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, the club appears as likely to flip the veteran outfielder as they are to use him. As for the Braves, they not only rid themselves of the $43 million due Kemp through 2020, but added some rotation and infield depth with McCarthy and Culberson and can now give top prospect Ronald Acuna a legitimate tryout in left field.