CINCINNATI -- On the same date that Lorenzo Cain reached 10 years of major league service, the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday designated for assignment the two-time All-Star outfielder.
Cain, 36, hit .179 with one home run and nine RBIs over 43 games this season.
“It just got to a point where it’s probably time,” Cain told a small group of Brewers’ beat writers. “I haven’t been performing like I would’ve liked, but the situation is what it is. I’ve had a great career. I can’t really be upset about anything, but, yeah, it’s time. I wish all my teammates the best, coaches, trainers, everybody that I’ve played with or met throughout my entire career, I wish them nothing but the best. It’s been a really fun ride for me for sure.”
Cain is in the last year of a five-year, $80 million contract he signed in January 2018 as a free agent. Milwaukee is responsible for the $10,897,121 remaining of this season’s $18 million salary. He is unlikely to be claimed off waivers because of his salary. If he is released, any team can sign him for a prorated share of the $700,000 minimum.
Waiting until Saturday allowed Cain to be fully vested in the players' pension fund.
“We figured that once we got to this 10-year mark, which we knew was important to Lo, it’s important to any player as it should be, we thought it was the right time to sit down with him and pick his brain about what he’s thinking and also let him know how we see his role on the team and where we see it going forward,” Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns said. “This was the right morning to do it. It was a good conversation. These are never easy conversations on either side, but I’m glad we had it.”
The center fielder played a key role for the 2015 World Series champion Kansas City Royals before signing with the Brewers, the team that originally drafted him before trading him in December 2010 to the Royals. The Brewers have reached the postseason every year since Cain rejoined them, though he played just five games in 2020 before opting out of the rest of that pandemic-shortened season
“No doubt, he did his part,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “At the end, it was time for this. It was just time.”
If Cain harbored any ill will, it didn’t show.
“I would say it was mutual to part ways,” he said. “We have a really good team. I don’t think I was contributing the way I would’ve liked. I feel like they definitely had to make a move. I definitely would’ve liked to play a lot better – contribute to the team a little bit more – but unfortunately, that wasn’t the case this year.
“At the end of the day, it’s been fun. I think that team can go really far. They’re really well-coached, well-managed. Those guys play their hearts out. I’m definitely gonna miss them. It’s been a fun ride for sure.”
Cain had a productive debut season with the Brewers, making his second career All-Star Game appearance and finishing seventh in the NL MVP balloting while helping Milwaukee win its first NL Central title since 2011. Cain hit a go-ahead single in the eighth inning of a 3-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs in the tiebreaker game at Wrigley Field to determine the division champion.
He won a Gold Glove the following season.
“He’s had an incredible career,” Stearns said. “I don’t know if this is the end of his career or not, but if it is, it’s been a remarkable one. His contributions to our organization have really been beyond what we could have expected when we signed him, from the elite play to what we saw at the front end of the contract he signed here to his clubhouse influence and perspective he’s been able to provide our team over the last couple of years.”
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