Texas Rangers rumors: Lorenzo Cain, free agent center fielder, has been a player who has been discussed as a potential target for the Rangers this offseason, and Jerry Crasnick says that Texas has “ramped up their pursuit” of Cain.
Cain, who turns 32 in April, has been the Kansas city Royals starting center fielder the past five seasons, and has put up solid offensive numbers while also garnering a reputation for being a stellar defender in center field. Jon Daniels has said that a point of emphasis for the team this offseason is improving their defense, and putting Cain in center field would check that box, while also giving the Rangers a solid righthanded bat.
Cain is clearly the top center fielder on the free agent market, but like most of the top free agents, the market for him has been slow to develop. The risk with Cain is that his defense will degrade as he heads towards his mid-30s, and that you would be paying a player whose skill set is potentially going to be that of a corner outfielder rather than a center fielder in a couple of years.
That being said, if the Rangers think Cain can provide quality work in center field for the next three to four years, that timeline would give the Rangers a regular center fielder until one of the group of center field options in the lower minors -- Leody Taveras, for example -- would be ready. It would also give the Rangers additional flexibility in potentially moving one of their corner outfield bats, since Delino DeShields would be shifting to a left field or fourth outfielder role.
Cain has been roughly a 4 win per year player over the last several years, and he was expected to get somewhere in the $15-17 million per year range this offseason. The expectation has been that he would end up landing a five year deal, but if Texas could get him for 3-4 years at $15-17 million, that would be a pretty reasonable pickup, filling a need over the medium-term without significantly hampering the team’s long-term outlook.