No. 3: Lorenzo Cain
Next up is gift number three, all packed into a five year, $80 million dollar contract. David Stearns bringing back Lorenzo Cain was a massive boost to the young Milwaukee Brewers roster. His performance throughout the season solidified the Brewers lineup and defensive outfield.
Cain produced a top 15 season among all players (top five in the National League) in WAR while playing exceptional defense in center field. He wasn’t a slouch at the plate, either. His .308/.395/.417 slash line and 124 wRC+ was essential at the top of the lineup as a table setter. He also set a career high in steals at 30, though he needs to be more efficient with his attempts as he was caught a career high seven times.
David Stearns paid big for a consistent veteran and was rewarded with the season that Lorenzo Cain produced. His performance at the plate and in center field was well worth the $14 million he was due in 2018. Cain was a steal for Stearns last year, especially given that he didn’t have to trade away any assets to acquire him.
However, a five year, backloaded deal for a 32-year-old with his injury history does have the potential to become a problem. Cain has only played more than 130 games three times in his career and is only getting older at a position that doesn’t age kindly. If injury troubles or just natural deterioration in talent rear their ugly head down the road with $66 million still due then this contract will be a major problem for a small market team like Milwaukee.
Yet Stearns and Brewers’ fans aren’t worried about that. Cain is an essential part in making a deep run with this organization. With the team they currently possess and a weaker National League (nowhere near the talent the American League has), a trip to the World Series is well worth mortgaging the next three years.
So, the risk of Cain’s contract becoming an albatross in exchange for the reward of a legitimate chance at a banner is well worth it. As they say, banners fly forever and I’m sure no fan regrets the electric 2018 season they just experienced.