One has to imagine that Lorenzo Cain will receive a similar type deal to what Dexter Fowler got from the St.Louis Cardinals last off-season. Given that the Cardinals were in desperation mode in order to pry Fowler away from the division rival Cubs, the 5-year $85 million deal they offered was likely a little more generous than it needed to be.
That being said, Cain should at least receive something close to the $16.5 million/year that Fowler is getting. But considering how St.Louis went above and beyond in order to sign Fowler to five years, chances are whichever team does sign Cain may be able to get away with a 4-year contract for the soon to be 32-year old outfielder. Last off-season, the Blue Jays were very interested in signing Fowler, and even though things have changed for the Blue Jays over the past 12-months when it comes to their outfield after the acquisition of Teoscar Hernandez and emergence of Anthony Alford, they’re still in need of some help in the outfield.
Acquiring Cain would however create a bit of a log jam in the Blue Jays outfield. With Kevin Pillar, Steve Pearce, Ezequiel Carrera, Dalton Pompey, Hernandez, and Alford, Toronto could then utilize that abundance of outfielders to part with one of Pearce or Pillar. As much as Pillar needs to work on improving his OBP and being more selective at the plate, I feel he could be the next player in a long line of Blue Jays to transform into so much more with respect to the offensive side of their game. The Blue Jays need to hold onto Pillar, who’s still four years shy of becoming a free agent, and focus on making a move that involves Pearce.
If Toronto does manage to sign Cain, the big question then becomes “who to start in centerfield?” Although still a respectable outfielder, Cain appears to be past his prime defensively, and isn’t quite as solid in that regard as Pillar. The thing is, with Cain able to contribute so much more on offense and also being a leader in the clubhouse, I prefer the idea (for at least 2018) of having him in centerfield, Pillar in left, and Hernandez in right. An outfield like that would give Toronto one of the strongest defensive outfields in the American League.
People often talk about how the first thing to go as a player gets older is his speed. Something Cain has going in his favour is that he didn’t become a starter in the big leagues until 2013 when he was already 27 years of age. Cain plays a physical brand of baseball, which is one of the reasons he’s such an exciting player and appealing option for the Blue Jays to sign. But given how he’s played considerably less time in the majors compared to many players his age, if there ever was a player in their 30’s for Toronto to take a chance on and offer a lengthy 4-year contract, it would be Cain.