Last season was Lorenzo Cain‘s coming out party. A raw talent who was still learning the game due to a late start in baseball, the Kansas City Royals outfielder had a major leap forward offensively. He posted a career best .301/.339/.412 batting line, stealing 28 bases and covering enough ground in the outfield where it was a shock if he was unable to get to a fly ball.
After the breakthrough he had last season, it was expected that Cain would regress. Since Cain saw a 93 point jump in his OPS, and had his batting average buoyed by a .380 batting average on balls in play, it was certainly understandable to expect that he may not be the same player this season.
As it turns out, Cain has not been the same player this year. In fact, he may arguably be even better. His .286/.335/.427 batting line has, thus far, yielded a career best .762 OPS. Cain, with his six home runs entering last night’s action, is only one away from tying his career mark. He has been more selective at the plate, resulting in much better contact this season. According to Fangraphs, Cain has made hard contact on a career best 29.2% of balls in play, while making weak contact only 13.5% of the time.
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In what should be the beginning of his prime, Lorenzo Cain appears to have taken that next step forward, building off of his breakout campaign. He is cementing his place as one of he vital cogs in the Kansas City Royals offense, and may only be just now touching upon his potential. With his improved selectivity at the plate, resulting in much better contact, Cain could be well on his way to becoming a player with double digit home runs and close to thirty stolen bases each season.
Add in his Gold Glove caliber defense, and it is easy to see that Cain is an important piece for the Royals. In fact, Cain is important enough that, despite being under team control until 2018, it is now time for the Royals to engage him with discussions towards a long term contract.
At age 29, Cain is in the prime of his career. While he is controlled through age 32, it would certainly make sense for the Royals to look to purchase his arbitration years and go a bit into his free agency window. A five year extension certainly should not be outside the realm of possibility, and may be beneficial for both Cain and the Royals.
With such an extension, Cain would have the certainty of knowing that, even if an injury was to occur, he would be covered financially. Likewise, if Cain continues to blossom into the multifaceted threat that he has become, the Royals would have themselves another cornerstone for the franchise locked up long term. After the contract extensions given out to Salvador Perez and Yordano Ventura, Cain may be the next logical piece to lock into place.
As the Kansas City Royals look towards the next stage of contention where they maintain their success, signing the right players to contract extensions will be critical. Lorenzo Cain should be someone the Royals look to lock in for the long haul.