4. Lorenzo Cain
Acquired via Free Agency from Kansas City (January 2018)
The deals for Lorenzo Cain and Yelich on the same day this past offseason could go down as one of bigger days in team history. That is saying something for late January.
At this point, it is difficult to judge one acquisition over the other. They both transformed the team overnight. Yelich likely has the better future because of age, but we are judging the deals primarily on where we stand today. In my humble opinion, five weeks ago I claimed that Cain was the Brewers team MVP. Aguilar would likely get that award now, but Cain’s impact and the fact it only cost money (a lot of it) to acquire him–gives this move the nod for now.
Cain made the All-Star team for the 2nd time in his career this season with a slash line of .293/.393/.427. This includes eight home runs and 18 stolen bases, along with some of the best center field play you will see in baseball. He has a WAR of 4.4, which attests to how well he is playing on defense.
Cain has also changed how he plays, since he is largely batting leadoff after batting 3rd in the order in Kansas City. He already has 47 walks on the season, which is the 2nd most he has ever had in a season. Cain will pass the 54 free passes he drew last season in short order. He was supposed to fall off a bit in his age 32 season, but his legs have not shown that yet. The Brewers are hoping a late start to the game has saved his legs a bit.
The intangibles are also off the charts for Cain, as the team has been galvanized by his spirit and World Series credentials. Cain will certainly be a major cog down the stretch. The signing by Stearns was a bit hefty in cost by Milwaukee standards, but the move is already paying huge dividends in his return to the team that drafted him in 2004.