Image courtesy of MLB.

Last week the Milwaukee Brewers pulled off a blockbuster trade and a major signing. I won’t discuss the Christian Yelich trade due to it being a great trade for both sides, and there not really being much to add to what was already said. Milwaukee basically replaced Lewis Brinson with Yelich and sent expendable players, while Miami deepened their farm and saved money by trading a good but not great player. In fact I think that Lewis Brinson will be a star in Miami, and even turn out to be better than Yelich.

So what is then the purpose of this article? As good as the Yelich trade was for Milwaukee, the Lorenzo Cain signing was bad. Cain will turn 32 years old in the first month of the season, and his game is entirely dependent on speed and contact. It’s a well-known fact that speedy players decline in their 30’s. Worse, he’s a streaky player who can’t be consistently relied upon, and who has been mostly average throughout most of his career. In the period of 2010-2013 he averaged 1.8 rWAR per season. He exploded in the period of 2014-2017 during which he averaged 3.6 rWAR per season, topping out at 7.2 in 2015. That said, he declined rapidly to 2.9 in 2016, before rising up to 5.3 in 2017 (his contract year).

We can reasonably expect Cain to be productive in 2018 to the tune of a steamer projected .284/.345/.442 batting line and a 2.9 fWAR. Is that enough to push them over the top in 2018? Is he worth $80 million over 5 years? He’s earning $17 million in 2022 when he’s going to be 37. Is that smart for a small market team? Cain is an above average player, but the Milwaukee Brewers aren’t one player away from a championship, and by the time they are, he’ll be a bad contract.

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