SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The San Francisco Giants are committed to keeping All-Star right-hander Matt Cain in their talented rotation beyond 2012, and CEO and president Larry Baer said Thursday that serious conversations are ongoing with the pitcher's representatives.
"We're earnestly working with his agents," Baer said, speaking after a media open house at AT&T Park to unveil the ballpark's changes, promotions and new food items for this year. "It wouldn't be good to forecast it. All I know is there are discussions, and the discussions have been continuing."
Cain said at the start of spring training last month he hoped to have the situation resolved one way or the other by opening day April 6 at Arizona. Baer said San Francisco is negotiating a deal that works for both sides — and that something still could be accomplished in Cain's ideal timeframe.
"Look, Matt's with us for the 2012 season, so anything's possible. I think that we're kind of in lockstep in that let's see if we can get something done before the season," Baer said. "That's kind of been the lockstep approach. The two sides are in agreement, 'Let's see if we can.' I don't think anybody's thinking about if we don't. We're all thinking, 'Let's see what we can get done before opening day.' We're not at opening day yet."
The 27-year-old Cain went 12-11 last season with a 2.88 ERA, reaching 200 innings for the fifth straight season. He also didn't allow an earned run during the entire 2010 postseason, when the Giants pulled off an improbable World Series championship.
Cain, represented by CAA Sports, is expected to seek a five-year contract worth more than $100 million, and Baer said he isn't against making a long-term offer.
Cain hasn't named his price tag or the number of years he would like, other than to say he wants "fair value," and several other top pitchers around the majors have signed similar five-year contracts — Phillies ace Cliff Lee ($120 million), the Angels' C.J. Wilson ($77.5 million) and Jered Weaver of the Angels ($85 million). And Weaver's deal was considered a hometown discount.
While reports have indicated the parties were far off, that's not necessarily the case. For those who believe the Giants might be wary of a mega deal for a pitcher considering the $126 million, seven-year deal they gave Barry Zito ahead of the 2007 season, Baer doesn't compare the two cases.
Giants general manager Brian Sabean has said for years his priority is to keep his pitching staff intact for the long haul — and that hasn't changed. Two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum reached a $40.5 million, two-year deal in late January.
"What I'm willing to say is that we're working very hard with them, we're listening and they're listening," Baer said. "That's where we are. We're just continuing the process."