After 13 seasons in the majors, three World Series rings, three All-Star Game appearances, one magical perfect game, and over $140 million in the bank, San Francisco Giants starter Matt Cain is calling it a career.
According to CSN Bay Area, Cain told his teammates on Wednesday that he would be retiring before the media was told the same.
The Giants have spent weeks working on a plan to have Matt Cain make one final start for them this weekend. Cain announced Wednesday that Saturday’s appearance will actually be the last one of his big league career.
Before the final road game of his 13th big league season, Cain told his teammates that he will retire. He announced his intentions to the media a few minutes later.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said on Tuesday that he would allow Cain to get one final start with the Giants on Saturday against the San Diego Padres.
When he announced on Tuesday that Cain would make one more start, manager Bruce Bochy said it would be a special day for the entire organization.
“With what he’s done for the Giants organization, he’s been here since day one with me, and I wanted him to make this start at home,” Bochy said. “I’m sure it’s going to be emotional for him. It’s important for us and for Matt to have a start there the last homestand. Matt has been great through all of this and he has provided leadership. This is going to be a special game for him and for us.”
Cain was a key cog on the Giants’ World Championship teams in 2010 and 2012, but was a non-factor in their 2014 World Series run. His career really was never the same after he signed a six-year, $127.5 million extension in April of 2012. He was brilliant during the 2012 season, throwing a perfect game on June 13th against the Astros and pitching to a 2.79 ERA over 219 1/3 innings, finishing sixth in NL Cy Young voting and making his third and final NL All-Star team. In the 2012 Postseason, Cain made five starts for the Giants, notching a 3.60 ERA and going 2-2 in 30 innings on the hill. He also started Game 4 of the World Series that year, which the Giants won 4-3 in ten innings to win their second World Series in three years.
But following 2012, it was all over for Cain as a top level starter. After eight straight seasons with an ERA+ over 100 (including his seven start MLB debut in 2005) and six straight seasons with 200 innings, Cain never hit either threshold again. In fact, he hit 100 innings just twice over his final five seasons, and had just two seasons with an ERA+ over 80. Overall in the final five seasons of his contract, Cain had a 4.86 ERA (a shockingly poor 77 ERA+) over 105 appearances (95 starts) and threw just 544 innings.
Cain’s retirement leaves just Madison Bumgarner, Buster Posey, and Pablo Sandoval (who left the Giants for the Red Sox following the 2014 season, only to return this year after the Boston experiment was a disaster) remaining from the 2010 World Series team. However, to be fair to the Giants, building blocks Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford came up to the squad during the 2011 season.
The Giants weren’t going to count on Cain to be a key part of their team in 2018, but the team’s rotation will look that much more shaky next season. Johnny Cueto has an opt-out in his contract, while Matt Moore’s $9 million option for next year has already been exercised (despite his unsightly 5.52 ERA). San Francisco will go into next year with a rotation of Moore, Bumgarner, Jeff Samardzija, maybe Cueto, and…Ty Blach? Chris Stratton? An unnamed free agent or trade target?
Given that, even if Cueto opts out, the Giants will have over $150 million committed to their payroll next year, hopping into the free agent market for someone like Jake Arrieta or Yu Darvish might not even be a possibility.
The Matt Cain era in San Francisco resulted in three rings for the Giants. But in the post-Cain era, it could be a long time before the Giants return to the promised land.