Sidenote: While I wasn’t sure why Milwaukee felt the need to extend Braun when he was already under an extremely favorable contract, I look at that extension now as one of the best in sports. Ryan Braun will not make $20 Mil. in any single season! And he’s signed through 2020. That’s madness, especially when you consider that Vernon Wells is making upwards of $21 Mil. for each of the next three seasons (and $26 Mil. last year). Teixeira will register EIGHT years at well above Braun’s highest salary, even though Braun has been a better hitter by a substantial margin over the last five years. Ugh.
As far as the first-basemen are concerned, I’ll still take the Fielder deal. It’s shorter, he’s younger (not by much), he’s been more durable thusfar, and, I, personally, think he’s got higher upside as a hitter than Votto does, although several of my colleagues obviously disagree. Votto’s defense works to his advantage, as will playing in the Great American SmallPark. Both deals promise to be at least as good as Helton’s was.
As for Cain. We had to know this was coming, right? If not from the Giants, than any of a dozen other teams. Did you know Cain has never registered less than 31 starts in a season or fewer than 190 innings? Only six pitchers have thrown more inning than he has over the last five seasons and of them, only King Felix is younger. Tim Lincecum is actually older than Cain and over the last two years, Cain has been just as good:
Lincecum: 3.08 ERA, 3.16 FIP, 9.3 fWAR, 429 IP, 9.5 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 0.7 HR/9
Cain: 3.01 ERA, 3.28 FIP, 9.0 fWAR, 445 IP, 7.2 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 0.6 HR/9
It was not unreasonable for Cain’s representation to argue that he had been nearly as good as Sabathia was in the years preceding his first contract with the Yankees and that was clearly the bar used in the negotiating process. The Giants managed to come in several million short of the Sabathia mark and they structured the deal in a way that protects them on the backend. I think they should consider themselves lucky, as I expect both Zack Greinke and Cole Hamels will leap over this bar if they make it to free agency.