By GENARO C. ARMAS, AP Sports Writer
MILWAUKEE (AP) — Free-agent outfielder Lorenzo Cain and the Milwaukee Brewers have agreed to an $80 million, five-year deal, according to person familiar with the negotiations.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the agreement has not been announced.
Cain is a former Brewers farmhand who will join Christian Yelich as part of a dramatic outfield makeover for a team hoping to dethrone the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central.
The 31-year old Cain spent the past seven seasons in Kansas City, where he was part of the core of a Royals team that won the World Series in 2015. Cain hit .300 with 15 homers, 49 RBIs and 26 steals last season.
Cain’s deal is the highest for a free agent this offseason and the second-highest overall behind outfielder Justin Upton’s $106 million, five-year agreement to remain with the Los Angeles Angels. The Athletic first reported Cain’s agreement and ESPN first reported terms.
Cain was drafted by the Brewers in the 17th round in 2004 before being traded to Kansas City as part of a deal that sent Zack Greinke to Milwaukee before the 2011 season. The career .290 hitter is also known for his defense, as is Yelich, who was acquired from Miami for four minor leaguers on Thursday.
Yelich and Cain join a team that came one game short of making the playoffs in 2017. Milwaukee was one of the surprise stories in baseball following an 86-win season in what was supposed to be the second full year of a rebuilding project.
The timeline to return to contender status has accelerated.
Yelich, who turned 26 last month, will make $7 million this season in the third year of a $49.57 million, seven-year deal.
“We are always looking to make our team better and our organization better and we believe we did this,” general manager David Stearns said Thursday night after the team announced the Yelich deal.
Left fielder Ryan Braun has three years remaining on a $105 million, five-year deal.
Under baseball’s collective bargaining agreement, the Brewers will lose their third-highest pick in June’s amateur draft and the Royals will gain an additional pick after the first round as compensation.
More moves by Milwaukee are likely to address a now-crowded outfield. Last year’s right fielder, Domingo Santana, could be an attractive trade chip after the 25-year-old starter hit .278 with 30 homers.
“It’s possible,” Stearns said when asked about considering more deals. “I think we’re always exploring trying to get better.”
Keon Broxton and Brett Phillips, two other outfielders known for defense, could also be trading commodities.
The Brewers, who signed free agent pitchers Jhoulys Chacin and Yovani Gallardo last month, might still be in the market for a starter. Right-hander Jimmy Nelson is expected to miss the start of the season because of a shoulder injury.
Cain and Yelich both played center last season, and it’s unclear where they will be in the outfield alignment at Miller Park. Yelich won a Gold Glove as a left fielder in 2014.
Braun was limited to 104 games last year because of calf and wrist injuries. He has played the last two seasons in left field, the primary position in his career, following a two-year stint in right.
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