The Milwaukee Brewers look drastically different than they did earlier this offseason. There were two crazy moves in the span of about 90 minutes that changed the face of the lineup.
The second domino to fall, following the trade for Christian Yelich, was the signing of Lorenzo Cain. The swap of Yelich and Lewis Brinson left the Milwaukee Brewers in the same spot they were, with crowding in the outfield. Then a guy who is almost 32 gets added into the mix for 80 million over five years and a no trade clause.
What Cain Brings
There is the obvious answer of veteran leadership to a young team. The more in depth reasoning is that he brings World Series experience. If this team is all in like their recent moves suggest, that October experience will be extremely helpful moving forward.
There might be worry about his age and contract length, but he still hit .300 last season with a WAR above four. One of the more underrated aspects to how Cain can help help the team is on the base paths. In 2017 he stole 26 bases and got caught twice. His carer numbers show 127 steals with only being thrown out 25 times. He is consistently posting an above average BsR, making him a big plus on base
What About The Contract?
Five years for a player on the wrong side of thirty seem to be a lock to bring with it some dead money. In order to get an idea of what Cain’s years with the Milwaukee Brewers will look like, I looked into a comparable player. In this case, Johnny Damon fit best.
Obviously they are not the exact same player, but they play a similar game. Their body type is about as similar as things come, they both stand at 6’2″ and 205 pounds according to Baseball-Reference.
Damon, like Cain, also signed to a different team for his 32 year old season. For the retired outfielder, it resulted in a season where he hit .285. In fact, over the next five seasons he never hit under .270. He even added another year of .260, then at 38 he finally fell off to .222 in 64 games and his career ended.
That could mean good things for Cain and the Brewers. The deal Damon signed to send him to New York at 32 was a four year deal. So the situation is not entirely different. It just remains to be seen if it will translate in a similar manner.
The general thought is that Cain will not reach dead money area until around year three of his five year deal. So for at least 2018 and 2019 the Milwaukee Brewers will be getting a very solid player. But I think that is an incorrect assumption.
For one thing, back to the comp, Damon hit his career high in homers twice after he turned 32. But beyond that, being smart on the base paths and making good contact will not just decline out of nowhere.
Cain is a career .290 hitter with less than 100 career bombs. His game is not power. So for as long as he can make good contact and get on base, he will provide value to the roster. Just to show the longevity of getting hits, Ichiro did not record under 200 hits in the MLB for the first time at 37 years old. He had 184. Though he was also a more pure contact hitter.
I fully expect there to be good value in this contract throughout the whole life of the deal.
It is a good move by David Stearns to bring in a veteran presence with talent. Cain will be good for the Milwaukee Brewers for five years. It may not be All-Star status, but Damon was only a two time All-Star. The team doesn’t need that, they need a veteran who will compete. And that is Cain.