SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants are expected to announce as early as Thursday that they have agreed to terms with right-hander Matt Cain on a four-year contract with an option for a fifth year. An official announcement appeared possible Wednesday, but a Giants spokesman said that a couple of details needed to be finalized before the deal could be announced. The benefits to this deal are mutual. Cain, who pitched his first full Major League season in 2006, gains contractual security shared by few players with his relative lack of experience. The Giants gain cost certainty for the foreseeable future by avoiding salary arbitration with a player who has the potential to develop into one of baseball's top performers. Cain would have become eligible for arbitration after the 2008 season.
The Giants employed this strategy last year with Noah Lowry by giving the left-hander a four-year, $9.25 million extension with a $6.25 million option for 2010. Cain, who earned $328,000 last season, is likely to receive a deal with similar financial parameters. Giants left-hander Barry Zito, who also signed a four-year contract with an option year before the 2002 season as a member of the Oakland A's, understood the benefits that Cain will reap from a multiyear agreement.
"It's tough to go year to year, arbitration-wise," Zito said. "It's like having a free-agent year every year."Zito also hailed the deal from the team perspective. "It's big because it gives [Cain] a sense of trust," said Zito, who signed a seven-year contract including an option for an eighth season with the Giants during the offseason. "But it's also big for the ownership to show the fans of San Francisco that they're going to lock up these great players and reward these guys having good years at a young age with the fact that, 'Hey, we're committed to you and we know you're committed to winning and we know you're committed to us.'" Cain, 22, went 13-12 with a 4.15 ERA and 179 strikeouts in 190 2/3 innings last season. He's projected to be San Francisco's No. 2 starter behind Zito.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.