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Thursday, January 25, 2018

Brewers sign free agent Lorenzo Cain

Finally, a deal is made.

According to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, the deal is for five years and worth $80 million, which would be the largest free-agent contract so far this offseason. The club hasn’t confirmed the deal, which is pending the completion of a physical.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 25, 2018 at 07:55 PM | 51 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: brewers, lorenzo cain

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   1. Khrushin it bro Posted: January 25, 2018 at 08:06 PM (#5613591)
So Cain in RF, Yelich in LF and Phillips/Broxton in CF? That's a pretty good OF.
   2. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 25, 2018 at 08:08 PM (#5613593)
What about Braun? I'm guessing the young OFs are trade bait for a SP.

Also, yay Brewers! At least someone wants to win.
   3. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: January 25, 2018 at 08:14 PM (#5613596)
Domingo Santana has to feel pretty lousy right about now.
   4. cardsfanboy Posted: January 25, 2018 at 08:14 PM (#5613597)
Also, yay Brewers! At least someone wants to win.


The NL central has three teams trying..... the Reds being the Reds and the Pirates actively tanking.
   5. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 25, 2018 at 08:17 PM (#5613600)
The NL central has three teams trying

Which is one more than the AL central.
   6. Man o' Schwar Posted: January 25, 2018 at 08:22 PM (#5613603)
That's a pretty good price for Cain. If he gives you even 2 years as good as 2015/2017, you've probably made your money back.
   7. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 25, 2018 at 08:29 PM (#5613612)
That's a pretty good price for Cain. If he gives you even 2 years as good as 2015/2017, you've probably made your money back.

2 years that good pays for the contract. FG has him at 10.6 WAR for those 2 years combined. That would be $7.5M per win.
   8. Master of the Horse Posted: January 25, 2018 at 08:29 PM (#5613613)
Things my grandfather said to remember about baseball:

Fat guys age early
Bad defensive players who hit will do more harm than good. ######
Players who develop late crash sooner

There was more but the last one applies to Cain. Think this is a bad deal
   9. Howie Menckel Posted: January 25, 2018 at 08:31 PM (#5613615)
Santana already was on the trading block
they've got more moves coming
   10. KB JBAR (trhn) Posted: January 25, 2018 at 08:31 PM (#5613616)
AAV is a million low compared to fangraphs' projection, but obviously you trade that for an extra year. So maybe teams will wind up bidding up players to a certain point so long as wins appear to be bargains relative to payroll capacity or maybe compared to years past?
   11. Walt Davis Posted: January 25, 2018 at 08:33 PM (#5613619)
Interesting moves by the Brewers. Given Yelich's contract, seems they're paying about as much for Cain and Yelich as they would have had to pay Darvish in whom they were reportedly interested. This does free up three OF, packaging two of them to get a SP. What reasonably priced but good SPs are left to trade for? Or good but expensive with the other team eating some money?

Or is there something about Braun we haven't heard yet? Have they brought the DH to the NL?

Meaning they are kinda weird moves too. Braun had a down, injured year but was still average with a shot at bouncing back to 3 WAR. Santana put up 3 WAR and would seem to be out of a job. Broxton doesn't look to be too good but Phillips was awesome in his cup of coffee. You could move Braun to 1B but Thames/Aguilar combined for 2.7 WAR.

I'd think they must have nearly done deals in place for whoever they are trading because otherwise everybody now knows they need to move at least two of Santana, Braun, Phillips, Thames.

Anyway, I assume Theo's news feed is working and he's noticed the Brewers making some big moves. If not, I'm sure Darvish's agent just filled him in.

EDIT: Maybe they'll trade Shaw and put Braun back at 3B -- THAT I would pay to see as long as the seat wasn't behind 1B.
   12. Tin Angel Posted: January 25, 2018 at 08:35 PM (#5613622)
Five years seems way too long...two or three years from now he won't be the same player.
   13. PreservedFish Posted: January 25, 2018 at 08:43 PM (#5613628)
I share the suspicion that Cain will lose his skills sooner rather than later. But at the same time, that feels unfair. He's a great ballplayer. It's not so much money.
   14. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 25, 2018 at 08:48 PM (#5613630)
Five years seems way too long...two or three years from now he won't be the same player.

Right, but if he gives you 2 4-WAR years, and a 3-WAR year, it doesn't matter if he's useless the last 2 years.

This is a guy who has averaged 5-WAR per season from 28-31. Expecting him to average 2-WAR from 32-36 isn't a big ask.
   15. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 25, 2018 at 09:14 PM (#5613647)
Right, but if he gives you 2 4-WAR years, and a 3-WAR year, it doesn't matter if he's useless the last 2 years.

I think that's a significant overstatement. For as much as front offices have gotten smart about aging curves recently, teams still tend to give veterans on big contracts a ton of leeway in terms of staying in the starting lineup, let alone taking up a roster spot (see: Pujols, Albert). A useless player on the back end of a big (or even an average) free-agent contract can do some considerable damage in terms of the opportunity cost of a lineup/roster spot.
   16. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 25, 2018 at 09:23 PM (#5613653)
I'll be fascinating to see what the Brewers do with Braun, Santana, Broxton, and to a much lesser concern Thames. Actually, it'll be fascinating where they play both Yelich and Cain.

Yelich and Cain immediately project to be their best players, so it's a huge immediate improvement this season. Braun isn't totally Braun anymore, plus he's injury prone. I'm not sure what to think of Shaw's big year, and I do think Thames got figured out but he'll still worthwhile even if he's just part of a platoon. If Villar bounces back, they might not be a great team but they won't have a lot of holes and are solid all around. I kinda like what they're doing, and they'll be a fun team to watch (though probably annoying to play against).
   17. Lars6788 Posted: January 25, 2018 at 09:26 PM (#5613656)
I see Cain as a late bloomer who may have more years in him because he got started kind of late.

I see this as a Torii Hunter signing with the Angels - it was 10 years ago but I presume there were some mixed reactions as to how that would play out.
   18. Mike Webber Posted: January 25, 2018 at 09:38 PM (#5613665)
I share the suspicion that Cain will lose his skills sooner rather than later. But at the same time, that feels unfair. He's a great ballplayer. It's not so much money.


I'm not disagreeing with this general sentiment, BUT

the story we are often told about Lorenzo Cain is he did not take up baseball at a very young age, and so his physical gifts were way ahead of his baseball skill, or baseball training maybe is the way to put it.

So his physical skills showed him to be an obvious prospect, but when he moved up minor league levels, and he wasn't so far ahead physically as his peers, his development stalled a little. Or maybe he just had a bad/unlucky/injured season at 23 because at age 24 he had a nice MLB debut and at 25 the Royals left him in AAA because Gordon/Melky/Francoeur were all just a year or two older and having nice seasons.

Maybe the knowledge won't fade and the physical gifts will decline slower than most players with his late MLB start. I hope so for him, he's been fun to watch.
   19. JRVJ Posted: January 25, 2018 at 09:48 PM (#5613675)
Well, I for one am happy that there's some movement in the FA market.

I did not expect that movement to come from the Brewers, though........
   20. Nasty Nate Posted: January 25, 2018 at 09:49 PM (#5613677)
Cain of course used to be a Brewer.

This seems like a precursor for some other dominoes to fall.
   21. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 25, 2018 at 09:52 PM (#5613681)
I think that's a significant overstatement. For as much as front offices have gotten smart about aging curves recently, teams still tend to give veterans on big contracts a ton of leeway in terms of staying in the starting lineup, let alone taking up a roster spot (see: Pujols, Albert). A useless player on the back end of a big (or even an average) free-agent contract can do some considerable damage in terms of the opportunity cost of a lineup/roster spot.

Pujols has $114M left on his deal, vs $80M total contract for Cain. Cain's not going to be allowed to put up -2 WAR, b/c he's owed 2/32.
   22. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 25, 2018 at 10:15 PM (#5613697)
Cain's not going to be allowed to put up -2 WAR, b/c he's owed 2/32.

I'm not so sure - it's not just specifically because of the money owed, but also that the Proven Veteran Star status tends to elongate the period of figuring out whether he really has nothing left.
   23. ptodd Posted: January 25, 2018 at 10:25 PM (#5613704)
I would project Cain conservatively at 3.5, 3.0, 2.5, 2.0, 1.5 WAR for a total of 12.5 WAR over 5 years. At 8.5 million/WAR thats about 110 million or 22 million/WAR.

Instead he gets about 25% off that. For some reason people are calling it a good payday but only if you factor in collusion or $/WAR deflation.

Seems the new $/WAR is at 6.5 million. I expect total FA spending now to come in at 1.2 million. Not seen since 2012 and thats without any adjustment for payroll inflation
   24. Ziggy's screen name Posted: January 25, 2018 at 11:07 PM (#5613723)
Oh man that Pujols contract is a nightmare. The Blue Jays managed to unload Vernon Wells, maybe they should look into trading Pujols to the Angels.
   25. KB JBAR (trhn) Posted: January 26, 2018 at 12:02 AM (#5613759)
I like the deal for Milwaukee, but I'm not sure 12.5 WAR is conservative. ZiPS, for instance, has Cain at 3.1 WAR in 2018. Using a .5 win per year loss, that's 10.5 WAR or $84 million. Given Cain's age, injury history, career offensive performance, and defensive metrics trend line, a lower projection or downward adjustment for risk isn't unreasonable. I think there's a reason Cameron and the crowd came in below this deal in total dollars.
   26. ptodd Posted: January 26, 2018 at 01:14 AM (#5613777)
25. Zips projected him for 3.1 WAR last year too. A bit short. . Anyone over 30 gets knocked down by these projections. And even looking back a big difference between BR and FG in 2017. I think he benefits a lot in more of a hitters park. He certainly should be worth more than Dexter Fowler IMO even if 1 year older
   27. Stevey Posted: January 26, 2018 at 03:36 AM (#5613782)
Dan has the five year ZiPS for Cain up. it would seem he likes what the Brewers did quite a bit with $/WAR starting at 7.5 in 2018.
   28. shoewizard Posted: January 26, 2018 at 06:34 AM (#5613785)
24,24,18,11,5

Thats his rDRS since becoming full,time player

And UZR

20, 18, 14, 9, 2

I think Dan’s fielding projection is high.



   29. Brian Posted: January 26, 2018 at 07:03 AM (#5613786)
What about Braun heading to Arizona in a Greinke deal?
   30. shoewizard Posted: January 26, 2018 at 07:15 AM (#5613789)
That wouldn't make Arizona better. It would just save them money.
   31. Sunday silence Posted: January 26, 2018 at 08:23 AM (#5613797)
Does any one have an idea why Keon Broxton fielding metrics are low? TZ/BRIS have him at -13/-8 for last year.

But fangraphs has his catch probability at +9. He's a bit low on assists 5, but his hold pct. is very good at 51 or 52%.


I would guess about +8 runs for his range, -3 for assist and +3 for holds. So he seems good in CF...


Acquired from PIT for Jason Rodgers in 2015...
   32. Brian Posted: January 26, 2018 at 09:03 AM (#5613810)
That wouldn't make Arizona better. It would just save them money.


Braun instead of Tomas isn't an upgrade? And if this offseason has shown nothing else it's that saving money is no small thing.
   33. Nasty Nate Posted: January 26, 2018 at 09:14 AM (#5613815)
Unlikely theory: Braun is going to be suspended and the Brewers know it.

Unlikely theory #2: Red Sox have given up on signing Martinez, and will trade for Braun.
   34. shoewizard Posted: January 26, 2018 at 09:21 AM (#5613816)
Braun instead of Tomas isn't an upgrade? And if this offseason has shown nothing else it's that saving money is no small thing.


Why the incomplete analysis ? Who replaces Greinke's projected 4 WAR ?
   35. shoewizard Posted: January 26, 2018 at 09:45 AM (#5613836)
Unlikely theory #2: Red Sox have given up on signing Martinez, and will trade for Braun.


That actually sounds plausible
   36. Brian Posted: January 26, 2018 at 10:46 AM (#5613905)
I was going off the rumors that the Diamondbacks were exploring ways to get out from under Greinke's contract. Sure, it'll leave a gaping hole in their rotation but I have noticed some teams (The DBacks rumored to be among them in theory but haven't behaved this way yet that I know of) are more concerned about getting their finances right than their team.
   37. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 26, 2018 at 10:50 AM (#5613913)
Unlikely theory: Braun is going to be suspended and the Brewers know it.

Well, what with overt anti-semitism on the rise these days...
   38. Brian Posted: January 26, 2018 at 10:55 AM (#5613920)
Santana might make more sense to Arizona as he is cost controlled through 2021. Was the package for Stanton one that you would've have believed until it happened?
   39. formerly dp Posted: January 26, 2018 at 11:00 AM (#5613925)
Seems like a lot of teams could do worse tham Broxton in cf? Even looking at you, Mets...by rep, I thought he was supposed to be a superior defender...
   40. shoewizard Posted: January 26, 2018 at 11:23 AM (#5613945)
I was going off the rumors that the Diamondbacks were exploring ways to get out from under Greinke's contract. Sure, it'll leave a gaping hole in their rotation but I have noticed some teams (The DBacks rumored to be among them in theory but haven't behaved this way yet that I know of) are more concerned about getting their finances right than their team.


I never said they would never trade Greinke.

I said the trade you proposed would not make the team better, it would only save money.

You then put forth the idea that Braun over Tomas would make the team better without taking into account whoever replaces Greinke making the team worse.

This is a circular discussion.

I am not handicapping the probability of any trade. I am simply telling you that the trade you propose would make the D Backs worse, not better, and only save them money. That may be what they end up doing. I have no idea.

   41. DaVoice of DaPeople Posted: January 26, 2018 at 11:34 AM (#5613951)
I’m a Royals fan. I’m sad to see Cain go—he was a great player and carried himself well, always smiling.

Last year I couldn’t help but notice though: he was getting slow. I know they have data for this stuff now, so I could be off, but there were so many plays where off the bat I assumed we’d have a close play (say, grounder deep in the hole to the shortstop), but then when they’d cut to the bag he’d actually be out by 3 steps. It was always jarring.

That said, his baseball IQ seems very high. If he really has lost a step or two, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him alter his approach to the TTO style (more power, more BBs, but more Ks too), and remain effective.

But I guess we will see.
   42. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 26, 2018 at 11:40 AM (#5613958)
Last year I couldn’t help but notice though: he was getting slow. I know they have data for this stuff now, so I could be off,

Yep, you're wrong, based on what they do track. 2017 speed vs 2016 speed vs 2015 speed.
   43. DaVoice of DaPeople Posted: January 26, 2018 at 11:54 AM (#5613964)
The Royals did re-sign Alcides Escobar so—yay? Consolation prize?
   44. shoewizard Posted: January 26, 2018 at 12:08 PM (#5613976)
Just playing around with that Baseball Savant link and looking at all players all positions, gotta chuckle at Number 451

Only 4 yrs, 114M to go...not including 10 yrs 10 M personal services contract.

   45. Zach Posted: January 26, 2018 at 12:30 PM (#5613992)
Last year I couldn’t help but notice though: he was getting slow.

Yeah, he's gone from being a spectacular center fielder to being very good, too.

I've always thought he would have an aging curve similar to Torii Hunter.
   46. DaVoice of DaPeople Posted: January 26, 2018 at 01:33 PM (#5614058)
42–Ha! Shows that I just can’t trust my damn eyes!
   47. DaVoice of DaPeople Posted: January 26, 2018 at 03:02 PM (#5614126)
The terms of Esky’s contract have been released: 1 year, 2.5mm.
   48. PreservedFish Posted: January 26, 2018 at 03:16 PM (#5614135)
Yep, you're wrong, based on what they do track. 2017 speed vs 2016 speed vs 2015 speed.


42–Ha! Shows that I just can’t trust my damn eyes!


I don't know if those numbers are the whole story. It's possible his acceleration has disappeared but he's still able to hit the same max velocity.

I mean, maybe.
   49. Blastin Posted: January 26, 2018 at 03:39 PM (#5614151)
Thats actually true for me (I'm a runner, and pretty fast, though not THAT fast). I take an extra second to get going but I accelerate gradually until I reach the same speed I used to hit. My 100m time is pretty much exactly the same (though I'm a distance racer).
   50. Walt Davis Posted: January 26, 2018 at 03:58 PM (#5614160)
Or, unknown to you, the incidents you're thinking of were on days when he was nursing a minor injury. Or he just got a bad break out of the box which TV didn't show.

With Cain I think it comes down to your projection. I will assume the pundits at fg were projecting him to about 8 WAR (over 4 years) and coming up with around $68 M. ZiPS and possibly Steamer** put him around 12 WAR over 5 years, worth something around $100 M. The Brewers and Cain have roughly split the difference and priced him at 9-10 WAR.

#22... so what? The choice is fairly straightforward, pay for 10 WAR over 5 years or pay for 7-8 WAR over 3 years. Teams regularly choose 5/$80 over 3/$66, presumably they have some clue what they're doing. The amount of rope he gets in years 4 and 5 will be proportional to how well he holds up in years 1-3. So sure, if he's put up 12 WAR in the first 3 years, he'll start in year 4 and be kept in the lineup, possibly for the whole year, even if he tanks -- as he should be unless you have other indicators of serious decline other than a small sample of performance. So sure, Andrew McCutchen reeked in 2016 but didn't lose playing time ... and then was pretty good again in 2017 which also allowed the Pirates to trade him for 2018.

By the way, Statcast credited Cain with 15 OAA (outs above average) last year which is probably about 15 runs. That was the 5th highest total last year (Buxton, Inciarte, Betts, Adam Engel). The year before was 12 OAA which was 9th. (FYI, statcast ranks all OF together, so that's 5th among all OF, not 5th among CF.)

Guys who finished top 10 in both years (the only years we have) are Inciarte, Betts, Cain, Heyward, Hamilton and Kiermaier. I might not have named Cain but add Buxton and I think that's a pretty hard group to argue against as the best. (Pillar did not fare well in 2017 at -2; Marisnick was solid at +5).
   51. Walt Davis Posted: January 26, 2018 at 04:01 PM (#5614163)
Oh yeah, I haven't seen a multi-year Steamer projection for Cain but they project him to 3.2 WAR in 2018 and ZiPS projects him to 3.3 so I assume the 5-year Steamer projection is within 1 WAR lower than ZiPS.

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