One has a league MVP trophy. The other has a World Series Ring. On Monday, both of them inked big money deals to keep them with their current teams for the foreseeable future.
The Giants inked pitcher Matt Cain, a potential free agent after the 2012 season, to a six-year deal worth $127.5 million. The deal includes a vesting option should Cain pitch 200 innings-pitched in 2017, the last year of the deal, or a combined 400 innings in 2016 and 2017 and doesn't go to the disabled list in 2017 with an elbow or shoulder injury.
Meanwhile, Joey Votto and the Reds decided to top that, when Cincinnati signed the All-Star first baseman to a 10-year pact worth $225 million. The deal will keep Votto in a Reds uniform through the 2013 season, and includes a full no-trade clause. Votto, now the top first baseman in the National League, is formerly being paid like it.
Both deals are huge coups for the home teams, keeping both players with their original teams for what would appear to most meaningful years of their careers. That said, neither can be considered much of a deal. Votto will become the highest paid hitter in the National League, while Cain will be the highest paid right-handed pitcher in baseball and the third highest this side of CC Sabathia and Johan Santana.
While you have to applaud teams making the effort to keep developed talent in house, you have to wonder if the cost to both teams makes the contracts worthwhile overall.
For the mid-market Reds, inking Votto to a deal that averages $22.5 million for the next decade becomes a hurdle to overcome. Cincinnati ranked 19th in MLB in team payroll in 2011, with a total of $76,181,685 committed to players. By committing so much to Votto over the next several seasons, the Reds become handcuffed in what they can do when trying to keep second baseman Brandon Phillips in town or to further address their pitching needs.
For the upper-end Giants, who ranked 8th in all of baseball in player salaries, the splurge doesn't hurt them immediately. However, one has to wonder what impact the Cain signing will have on any future deal with two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum, who ultimately will demand a better deal when his current pact ends after 2014.
One has to applaud the desire of smaller market teams in keeping their players locked up. Teams like Tampa Bay, and more recently Kansas City, have been making an effort to keep their talent developed in some of baseball's best farm systems in house. But those teams made conscious decisions to get their players while they were younger, giving the players the finances they would feel appreciated with while also keeping flexibility for other moves in the future.
And in the end, these deals are all about the future. Hopefully for the Reds and the Giants, who kept their grip on two of baseball's brightest, they didn't lose their handle on fielding a contender 3-4 years from now.