• January 23, 2022

The Effect Of Matt Cain’s Deal On Cole Hamel Negotiations

The richest contract ever given to a right-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball history was signed earlier this week. Can you guess who signed it? Roy Halladay? Nope, try again.

Reigning American League Cy Young Award winner and MVP Justin Verlander? Get to the back of the line. Former World Series MVP Josh Beckett? Not even close. Seattle Mariners phenom Felix Hernandez? You lose.

The answer we were looking for was Matt Cain of the San Francisco Giants. Yes, that Matt Cain, he of the 69-73 career record. Thanks for playing.

Cain and the Giants agreed to a 6-year, $127 million deal that will pay the 27-year-old hurler just above an average of $21 million per year and keep him by the Bay until at least 2017.

Good for him. He’s a great pitcher – a two-time All Star with a 3.35 career ERA – and will keep getting better as time goes on. But, seriously? Don’t worry, that was the reaction from many around the game.

This contract is a ludicrous overpay and  panic move by San Francisco to keep a guy that has a career 69-73 record in the fold. The Giants panicked under pressure, gave into demands, and in turn, have skewered the market for upcoming free-agent pitchers, including Phillies stud lefty Cole Hamels.

Translation: It just became infinitely more difficult for the Phillies to keep Cole Hamels.

As we all likely know, Hamels recently signed a 1-year, $15 million deal that will allow him to become a free agent after the 2012 season. If Cain is worth $127 million then Hamels is worth his own weight in gold and then some. $127 million will just be a starting point for the Hamels camp.

So, how do the two pitchers stack up against one another? (All stats courtesy baseball-refernce.com.)

  • Cain is 27 years old while Hamels is a year older at 28.
  • Cain has a career 69-73 record while Hamels has compiled a career 74-54 record.
  • Cain has a lifetime 3.35 ERA while pitching his home games at cavernous AT&T Park. Hamels has a career 3.39 ERA while pitching his home games at the launching pad known as Citizens Bank Park.
  • Both pitchers are two-time All Stars with a World Series ring.
  • Hamels has an NLCS MVP and World Series MVP trophy on his mantle. Cain does not.
  • Cain is righ-handed while Hamels is left-handed.

So, who would you rather have on your team? Cain or Hamels?

Hamels is the easy choice and it’s not even close. Cole has done it all and hasn’t come close to his full potential yet. His changeup is amongst the best in the game and he’s achieved greatness without Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay on his team. He is a legit number one. Is Cain a legit number one without Tim Lincecum around?

Cole’s left-handedness holds more weight than most recognize. The top three highest paid pitchers for the 2012 season are all left-handed. The Mets’ Johan Santana will make $24 million. The Yankees’ CC Sabathia will make $23 million. Our Hometown Hercules, Cliff Lee, will make $21.5 million.

Hamels is likely to make somewhere in the vicinity of these deals. The real question is can the Phillies afford to sign another deal of that nature when they have Lee and Roy Halladay ($20 million in 2012) on similar deals for the foreseeable future? They would surely have to increase an already lofty payroll or cut payroll somewhere else.

The fact that numerous teams willing to pay that kind of dough will be lining up for Hamels’ services. The now Magic Johnson-led Los Angeles Dodgers are certain to be at the top of that list. Cole is a So-Cal kid so, if the opportunity arises, the allure of returning to his home area for big money may be too much to turn down.

The Giants didn’t do the Phillies any favors when they agreed with Cain on the ridiculous deal. They have set the market. As stated above, $127 million should be the starting point for Hamels’ agent because Hamels is better than and worth more than Cain is.

The key for the Phillies is getting Hamels to agree to a new deal on their terms and getting it done before the end of the season, which is much easier said than done. See Albert Pujols.

If Hamels ends the season without a new deal, things could get dicey for the Phillies thanks in part to the Giants and Matt Cain.

Greg Paone

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  • Look at their CAaeer Stats between Cain and Hamels and they are very close in every category excepy Hamels has a better Won-Loss record than Cain probably due that he’s pitched for better teams over his 6 Year Career where Cain’s first couple of Seasons were on some average SF Giant Teams.Close in age, Starts, Innings Pitched, ERA, Opposing Teams Batting Average against..
    Hamles Number probably went from about $17-$18 Million per Season to
    $21-$23 Per Season.. Left-Handed Starting Pitchers usually command and get paid more than their Right-Handed counterparts..
    Does anyone think the Phils would pay more per Season to Hamels than they woill for HAlladay and Lee.. Hwo would these guys feel about it, maybe they don’t care, but who knows.. This entire contract should have been handled back n December when they could have locked Hamels up with a 4-5 Year deal for $70-$80 million Deal and remember the Hamels is only 27 years old and could still get 1 moreBig Contract once the 4-5 Years was up sinec he would only be 31-32 … Reuben sscrewed up big-time and will now cost the Phillies about $5 More per season to keep Hamels or they will lose him in Free-Agency all together.. I see him moving back home to pitch for the Dodgers to go along with Kershaw and Billingsly to give them a Trio of younf, good arms for the foreseeable future, new ownership in LA will open up the Checkbook now that Previous Owner McCourt is out of the way…

  • if we dont pay him, it will kill us. 133 million

  • If we pay 3 pitchers over $20 M next year, you can really kiss the starting line-up goodbye! Unless we get lucky & Utley retires, & we can trade Howard for a monster package, (doubtful, & ZERO replacements out there. Pujols, Fielder, & Votto are now off the market) we won’t have many options. Not to mention, Victorino & Pence need to get redone & youth needs to be brought in at 3rd, catcher & SS. JEESH!!!!

  • GM R Amaro another wait and see approach which probably cost the Franchise another $25-$35 Million at least on a new Hamels Deal.. Just like he waited on 2B Utley to get healthy again (which is unlikley) and bringing in old timer’s like Thome,Nix,Wigginton and now Pierre ..
    If the Phils don’t start fast, this will be a long suimmer I am afraid..

  • Hamels will be a phillie for a long time. If they dont sign him and let him walk, it would be the biggest travesty in phillies history.

  • if they are out of it mid season ( highly doubtful) I wonder it Rube would trade him?

  • Does anyone see Amaro/Phillies making Hamels the highest paid Pitcher on the Phillies Staff… For that’s what it’s going to take to sign Hamels unless he
    does a 3 Year $60-$65 Million Deal and then can test the Market at age 31 and still commang a $20 MIllion + Deal..

  • I can see it. It is going to limit them in other areas but I think you have to make this deal. 6 for 140. Similar to CC Sabathia deal.

  • It’s just a damn shame they didn’t get this taken care of back in December .. they had all this $$$ coming off the books with Lidge,Oswalt,Ibanez and instead overpaid for Paplebon, Paid too much for Rollins and should have traded Blanton even if it mean eating some $$4 which would have been the case..
    Halladay & Lee probably have 2 Years of Elite Consistent Pitching left in their arms as they approach and pass 35 years of age, Not taking care of Hamels is a major mistake and miscalculation by Amaro and really should have been a priority after last season was over… Hamels is just getting into his Prime and should really have 5-6-7 years of great pitching ahead of him..

  • completely agree with you. It has come back to bite them. You cant let this kid walk, he is homegrown, WS MVP, left handed and mentaly though. That my friend is a rare thing to have!

  • tough

  • That is absolutely the first thing I thought of when I saw that deal. Just said the f-word under my breath to myself and made my silent good-bye’s.

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