The Giants locked up ace No. 2 on Monday, signing Matt Cain to a five-year, $112.5 million extension that will keep the All-Star with the team through 2017.
The contract includes a full no-trade clause and a player vesting option for 2018. That option would become guaranteed if he pitches 200 innings in 2017 or 400 combined innings in 2016-17 and is not on the disabled list for an injury requiring surgery on his right arm or shoulder. Otherwise, it becomes a team option.
The deal comes just months after the team signed Tim Lincecum to a two-year, $40.5 million extension in January. Members of the Giants organization have said their priority is to keep one of baseball’s best starting rotations intact long-term.
Cain, who will make $15 million this season under the final year of his old deal, was drafted by the Giants in 2002 and has been in the major leagues since 2007. He was an important part of the team’s 2010 World Series championship, when he pitched 21 1/3 innings without giving up an earned run and earned wins in the National League Championship Series and the World Series.
Cain said the direction of the team and the wealth of young talent made his decision an easy one.
“I know that [Buster] Posey’s going to be here for the next five years, [Madison Bumgarner] is supposed to be here the next five years,” Cain said. “I think that’s exciting for a guy that’s been around for a little bit to see the guys that we have, the talent that we’re going to have for the years to come from the young players.”
Manager Bruce Bochy praised Cain’s contributions on the field and as a clubhouse leader, and said the deal demonstrates a vision by the front office.
“It means they’re totally committed and they’re all in on trying to get back to the World Series,” Bochy said. “It’s not easy to keep a pitching staff like we have in tact. That’s a lot of money, to be honest.”
That might be an understatement. The deal is the richest for a right-handed pitcher in major league history, breaking the record held by Kevin Brown’s $105 million deal signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1998. The only pitchers with bigger contracts than Cain’s are left-hander’s CC Sabathia — $161 million for seven years from the Yankees — and Johan Santana — $137.5 million for six years from the Mets.
Despite reservations one might expect the Giants to have after signing Barry Zito to a massive seven-year, $126 million deal only to see his on-field production take a nose dive, Cain said he never felt the two sides were very far apart.
“I think both sides always felt like they were pushing in the right direction and it never got to that point where it needed to be scrapped,” he said. “It was always something that we were feeling confident about and we’re very glad that it happened.”