News broke last night that the Milwaukee Brewers were bringing Lorenzo Cain back to the org that drafted and developed him. This afternoon the team held a press conference to officially announce the move:
The #Brewers have officially signed OF Lorenzo Cain to a 5-year contract. pic.twitter.com/AEWziNgyh3— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) January 26, 2018
Cain gets an $80 mil guarantee from the Brewers that includes deferrals and breaks down like this: $13 mil in 2018, $14 mil in 2019, $15 mil in 2020, $16 mil in 2021, and $17 mil in 2022. Cain then becomes a free agent following his age-36 season and will receive $1 mil per year from the Brewers during 2023-2027 to fulfill the total $80 mil commitment. The deal also includes unconventional no-trade language: a full no-trade clause in year one, then 15 teams, then a seven-team NTC in years three and four, and finally a five-team no trade clause in the final year of the contract. To make room on the 40 man roster for Cain’s addition, the Wei-Chung Wang was officially released so pursue a contract in Korea.
GM David Stearns and manager Craig Counsell has plenty of praise for the veteran, who will wear #6 and serve as the regular center fielder. Stearns told reporters that Cain is a “one of the true rare five-tool players” in baseball. He wasn’t concerned about his team’s perceived glut of outfielders, highlighting the importance of having depth and talent and giving yourself options around the roster. By Opening Day, “we’ll have it sorted out and there will be plenty of ABs and plate appearances to go around” Stearns said. He acknowledged that expectations have been raised after the near-playoff run last season and that the org is now at a point where “bringing in Lorenzo makes sense.” He believes his team is ready to compete for an extended period of time.
As for Counsell, he fondly recalled being Cain’s teammate back in 2010 and a game-saving catch he made in Cincinnati. Counsell praised the contributions that Cain and Christian Yelich can make both on and off the field, and noted that he isn’t planning on Cain playing all 162 games in center field so Yelich will see some action there.
Cain, meanwhile, told reporters that it’s definitely “chilly out there” in free agency. He’s happy to be back in the place that his career began and noted that the Brewers had been in contact with him since the beginning of the offseason. When asked what he remembered about playing with his now-manager, well:
Already poking fun at the boss on the first day on the job. pic.twitter.com/YR750hmQJI— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) January 26, 2018
The two new additions leave Milwaukee will an embarrassment of capable outfielders, and while trade rumors continue to persist, the club is apparently preparing to explore one option that is overdue in the eyes of many fans. According to Counsell, “what we’re going to explore is can [Ryan Braun] play some first base.” Stearns ensured the gathered media that the idea is something Braun is open to. Stearns said that the team is always open to improving but wouldn’t say whether or not there were more moves coming. He did say that he’s comfortable with the club’s current pitching staff if there are no more changes.