The next time MLB owners cry poverty, opponents can point to April 2, 2012 as proof that it is just not true. Because on this day the Reds and Giants gave Joey Votto and Matt Cain, respectively, a combined $337.5 million.
Both deals are stunning. Votto’s contract is for ten years, $225 million and is on top of the two years he has left on his current deal. So the Reds now have Votto tied up for the next 12 years at $251.5 million, through the age of 40. ESPN’s Keith Law called it a “panic signing… an extension they almost certainly will regret before it reaches its halfway point.”
Votto is very good — he’s had four straight solid seasons and won the MVP in 2010. But now he is being paid A-Rod and Albert Pujols money. He’s good, but not that good.
Cain’s deal is for five years and a guaranteed $112.5 million beginning in 2013. Add in the $15 million he’s owed this season and a possible vesting option for 2018 and that figure climbs to $141 million. It’s the richest contract ever given to a right hander and the third most for any pitcher (behind CC Sabathia and Johan Santana).
Cain is also very good — his career ERA is 3.35 and he’s had sub-3.00 ERAs in two of the past three seasons. But he has a career losing record at 69-73. I know no one cares about won-loss record anymore, but I still think it is important, and the Giants are paying a guy this much money who has lost more games than he’s won.
So how much are they going to have to pay Tim Lincecum, who is 69-41 with a career 2.98 ERA and two Cy Youngs? $200 million? $250 million? The Giants have dug themselves into a hole with this Cain signing.
Don’t forget that these are two alleged smaller market, lower revenue teams which just handed out these massive contracts. And these guys weren’t even free agents! Imagine the size of the contracts that will be handed out to free agents over the next few years. This is only the beginning, and it can’t be good for the sport.