A's, Giants wait on rights resolution
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- San Francisco Giants president and CEO Larry Baer hinted Saturday there might not be a swift resolution regarding his club's territorial rights in the South Bay and whether the Oakland Athletics will be allowed to relocate to San Jose.
It appears as if negotiations on a possible contract extension with Giants ace Matt Cain also could take a while. While the Giants have said they are committed to keeping their top two pitchers for the long haul -- including two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum -- Cain said for the first time Saturday he's seeking a "fair value."
"We're listening to anything that's of fair value. That's the way we're taking it," Cain said.
At the owners' meetings last month, commissioner Bud Selig said the situation facing the A's and Giants was on the "front burner." He appointed a committee in March 2009 to evaluate the issue facing the Bay Area's two baseball teams, but has not indicated when an announcement on the findings might come.
"We continue to be respectful of the process, and there is a process," Baer said from his team's Scottsdale Stadium spring training site. "The game is bigger than any internal machinations. I think it's not good for the game to have whatever internal back and forth between teams. That's not good for the game. We want to be respectful and see the game flourish in our market, in all the markets."
In regards to negotiating with Cain, Baer said "it's to be determined" whether the sides will reach any common ground on what would be considered fair market value. Giants general manager Brian Sabean has long identified keeping his top pitchers around for the long haul as one of his top priorities. Lincecum received a $40.5 million, two-year contract late last month to avoid an arbitration hearing.
"I don't want to comment on status but any time you're talking, it's a good thing, and we'll talk," Baer said of dealings with Cain. "It's been a lot of back and forth conversations. All I will say is that if there are conversations, that's a good thing. We care about all of our players and the homegrown players, obviously, carry some special qualities. Matt or any of our guys are people that we're going to put big energy into."
The 27-year-old Cain, a two-time All-Star, went 12-11 last season with a 2.88 ERA and reached 200 innings for the fifth straight season -- a span in which he also has made at least 32 starts each year. He also didn't allow an earned run during the entire 2010 postseason, when the Giants pulled off an improbable World Series championship.
San Francisco might have to pull out its pocketbook for this one.
Cain hasn't said what price tag or the number of years he would like, though it's believed the right-hander's desired range would be for five years and the upwards of $100 million considering several other top pitchers around the majors have 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.
Cain, who now has a few new faces in his CAA Sports representative team that includes agent Jeff Berry, said he hopes there will be a decision one way or the other before the start of the season and doesn't plan to think about his contract status once games begin.
"I believe both sides would like to have something resolved, whether it's signing back or whether it's not," Cain said.
While the A's have said since the season ended last fall they expected to hear before the start of the 2012 season whether they would be allowed to move to technology-rich Silicon Valley, nothing appears imminent.
"Think whatever. This was discussed when Steve Schott owned the (A's) 12 years ago," Baer said. "We know it's been studied and being studied. We're cooperating."
A's managing partner Lew Wolff said in an email Saturday he is "simply following the process" and has nothing new to report regarding a decision. Wolff has said his low-budget franchise needs to build a new ballpark in order to survive.
In December 2009, the City of Oakland unveiled three potential spots to build a new ballpark for the A's. Wolff has his sights on San Jose and has repeatedly said his franchise has exhausted its options in Oakland after years of trying.
When asked if the process includes negotiations over a possible settlement to allow the A's to move, Baer paused before saying, "Not necessarily."
"Again, there's a lot of things being studied and I'm going to go back to being respectful of the process. There's a presumption that there needs to be an answer to a question and I'm not sure that that's the question," Baer said of it being a simple yes or no regarding letting the A's move. "I know that some folks would like to see an answer to that question but that's not necessarily the question -- maybe it is, maybe it isn't the question that's on the table. I'll just leave it at that."
NotesAll-Star RHP Ryan Vogelsong, nursing a back strain sustained Feb. 7 while lifting weights, said he is set to play catch Monday. Manager Bruce Bochy said he should be back on the mound for a bullpen in about a week. "He's eager, anxious to get going," Bochy said. "It looks like he's at the tail end of this situation." ... Lincecum pitched a bullpen session with no problems after he was held back earlier in the week because of a stiff back. "He threw great," Bochy said. "He feels good. We're going to still be a little cautious with him."
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press