A contract extension with the San Francisco Giants means the world to right-hander Ryan Vogelsong. It means finally, at age 34, he won't have to worry about getting cut in spring training. It means he'll have the security of a guaranteed paycheck for 2012, 2013 (for $8.3 million total), plus 2014 (if the Giants pick up his option). It means a certain kind of validation for all of the hard work he has put in during his unlikely journey to success in the major leagues. It means more opportunities to tip his cap to grateful crowds at AT&T Park.
But does it mean anything to the rest of the Giants rotation, particularly to Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum, and whether the team will lock them down for big-money, long-term deals?
Lincecum and his agent have been just fine doing arbitration year to year with the Giants. Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News reports that both sides will exchange salary proposals for 2012 by the middle of next week. Lincecum, who will be a free agent after the 2013 season, did recently propose an eight-year contract that the Giants had no interest in accepting. Cain, conversely, will be a free agent at the end of this season after he earns $15 million. So there's a sense of urgency there for Giants vice president Bobby Evans:
Evans confirmed that the club has spoken with Cain's representatives in recent days. He described the talks as "very healthy dialogue and it's ongoing."
"I'm an optimist by nature so you can pretty well gather we'll do everything we can with all parties to come to agreeable terms," Evans said. "They've been very responsive."
With due respect to Vogelsong, locking him up while letting Lincecum and Cain dangle seems backward. But truthfully, it's easier for ownership to commit $8.3 million to a pitcher than it would be $80 million for Cain or $125 million for Timmy.
Especially when Barry Zito is still on the books. That has to be a hangup, doesn't it?
Zito's monstrous deal ends in 2013, not counting the club's $7 million buyout for 2014. Handing over huge money to one or two guys, again, has to be on the collective minds of Giants ownership. Not that Lincecum or Cain necessarily will turn into Zito pumpkins once they get paid. But many Giants fans have been concerned with how the team has hesitated to spend money the past two offseasons, and those concerns won't abate until Lincecum and Cain (mostly Lincecum) are locked up.
And to do that, the Giants will need to commit Zito-type dollars. What they're paying Vogelsong just pales by comparison.
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