As hinted at over the weekend by Alex Smolokoff of Today’s Knuckleball, the Kansas City Royals have agreed to a two-year contract with All-Star center fielder Lorenzo Cain.
— Kansas City Royals (@Royals) January 18, 2016
The deal is for $17.5 million total, but is significantly backloaded for the 2017 season: the contract gives Cain $6.5 million for 2016 and $11 million for 2017. Cain’s previous career earnings are estimated to total $4.35 million. The deal locks in Cain’s final two arbitration seasons, and he is currently scheduled to enter the free agent market after the 2017 season.
The Royals acquired Cain back in the winter before the 2011 offseason, as a prospect in the trade that sent ace Zack Greinke to the Milwaukee Brewers. Over the last two seasons, each of which has seen the Royals advance to the World Series, Cain has provided more overall value than any center fielder but Mike Trout and Andrew McCutchen.
In their offseason as World Series champions, the Royals have notably avoided significant free agent investments. While Cain is scheduled to be the ninth-highest-paid Royal in 2016, the highest-paid Royal next season will be Alex Gordon, who will earn $12 million. In 2017, designated hitter Kendrys Morales has a mutual option for $11 million, the same as Cain, and Gordon will receive $16 million.