Jeff Passan recently published an article on ESPN.com regarding players that will, should be, or could be traded this offseason. Along with the Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox, Colorado Rockies, and New York Mets, the Milwaukee Brewers were highlighted under the sub-heading, “We’ve Discussed Pretty Much Everyone, So Might As Well.”
Mookie. Lindor. Nolan. Hader. Cain. Story. KB. Whit. Kluber. Duffy. Ray. Joc. With the tender deadline past and free agency starting to move, the so-far stagnant trade market is still percolating. Here are the names being bandied and what you need to know: https://t.co/T7hiKHPznc— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 3, 2019
According to the article, David Stearns is open to discuss anyone in a trade not named Christian Yelich. That is certainly not a surprise given reports that the Brewers have been telling opposing teams that Josh Hader is available for the right price.
Brewers Willing To Listen On Josh Hader Trade https://t.co/ilKNULMWBI— Tim Dierkes (@mlbtrbrewers) December 2, 2019
Instead of Hader, Passan highlighted Lorenzo Cain in his piece. Passan indicates that sources tell him the Brewers openness extends to LoCain. The 2019 Gold Glove winner still has three years and $51 million left on his contract, which makes him Milwaukee’s biggest financial liability.
Further reports indicate Milwaukee is also interested in increasing payroll flexibility and even payroll cutting.
The #Brewers will undoubtedly have a smaller payroll this year, which several rival executives acknowledged during GM meetings https://t.co/xmcVFvRDvj— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 3, 2019
The Brewers are certainly cutting payroll presently, so it is not out of the realm of possibility that Lorenzo Cain and his contract would be up for discussion. His lack of offensive production in 2019 makes him even more vulnerable to such talks. The contract (5 years, $80 million) looked like a bargain in his first year with the Brew Crew. In 2018, the center fielder produced a fantastic season where he slashed .308/.395/.417 from the lead off spot while delivering some of the best defense in MLB. Unfortunately his offensive numbers in 2019 fell off substantially, slashing just .260/.325/.372. Cain battled injuries throughout the season, which likely impacted his play on the field. That being the case, one should expect a healthy Cain to play better, but the health of an aging player has to be a major concern, especially one that plays a premium position.
Cain will turn 34 in April, and will be 36 in the last year of his contract. Injury riddled years with middling production could make the last three years of his contract problematic. Even with Cain coming off a down year, he might have more value in trade now than he would at 35, especially if he battles injuries again and/or has another mediocre showing at the plate in 2020. LoCain is apt to have a bounce back year, but risk avoidance or the cost of such risk might be a real motivation of David Stearns and Company moving into 2020 and beyond (e.g. non tenders of Jimmy Nelson and Travis Shaw, declining of Eric Thames option, and trade for another young shortstop). If so, it makes some sense Lorenzo Cain is on the trading block.
Just to demonstrate willingness to talk about anyone in a trade, Robert Murray tweeted the strong trade interest in Keston Hiura. If there is anyone other than Christian Yelich that Milwaukee would say is off limits, it would be Hiura. Yet Milwaukee’s front office is taking calls. Based on the their response, however, Hiura is unlikely to go anywhere.
Brewers have taken calls on Josh Hader and Lorenzo Cain, as @Ken_Rosenthal and @JeffPassan reported. Unclear likelihood of either possibility. But as has become David Stearns’ style, the team will listen to inquiries.— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) December 3, 2019
Statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference