Go ahead and mark January 25th, 2018 as the day the Milwaukee Brewers put the rest of the National League central division on notice. The Brewers kicked off the evening by completing a trade for Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich, which saw them sending four prospects to Miami for the All-Star outfielder. They then followed that up by adding long-time Kansas City Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain to a five-year, $80 million deal, putting an end to weeks on inactivity around Major League Baseball’s offseason.
#Brewers in agreement with free-agent outfielder Lorenzo Cain, sources tell The Athletic. Deal is pending a physical.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 26, 2018
Lorenzo Cain has agreed on a 5-year, $80M deal with the #Brewers, source says. It’s the biggest free agent contract of the offseason. The deal includes no-trade protection and significant award bonuses. Milwaukee building a super outfield with addition of Yelich and Cain.
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) January 26, 2018
Cain, 31, will return to the team that originally drafted him in the 17th round of the June Amateur Draft back in 2004. He played just one season in Milwaukee before spending the last seven season as a member of the Kansas City Royals, whom he helped win a World Series title in 2015.
Last season, Cain slashed an impressive .300/.363/.440 with 15 home runs and a career-high 175 hits in 584 plate appearances. Cain is a consistent, reliable hitter who can produce from virtually anywhere in the lineup.
That being said, Cain’s defensive prowess is impossible to ignore. He is currently ranked as the 14th best outfielder in terms of defensive WAR (wins above replacement) and has finished in the top-5 several times throughout his career.
The acquisitions of Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich now gives Milwaukee an overload of talent in the outfield, which likely means that the ,’Brew Crew’ is far from done this offseason. Starting pitching is still a crucial area of need for the Brewers, and their new-found depth in the outfield gives them the ammunition needed to swing a trade. Milwaukee’s regular outfield will now consist of Ryan Braun, Christian Yelich, and Lorenzo Cain, which leaves players such as Domingo Santana, Keon Broxton, and Brett Phillips suddenly on the outside looking in.
It would behoove the Brewers to include at least two of those three players in a trade package for a starting pitcher. Chris Archer from the Tampa Bay Rays would be a fitting target, given Tampa’s eagerness to rebuild.
Also, let us not forget that Milwaukee has entered the Yu Darvish sweepstakes and could also be in on Jake Arrieta. Should the Brewers be able to add one of those free agents, as well as complete a trade for another starting pitcher, they would instantly become favorites in the National League Central division.
Stay tuned, Brewers fans, the fun hasn’t stopped yet.