The Kansas City Royals announced Monday that All-Star center fielder Lorenzo Cain will remain with the team on a new two-year contract and avoid arbitration as a result:
Kansas City Royals @Royals
#Royals sign OF Lorenzo Cain to 2-year contract, avoiding arbitration. https://t.co/GZfsc02WXr2016-1-18 21:14:26
Cain was the 2014 American League Championship Series MVP and an integral part of the Royals' World Series-winning team this past season. The 29-year-old batted .307 with 16 home runs and 72 RBI in 2015 and stole 28 bases for the second consecutive year.
Cain has exceptional range in the outfield and fits what the Royals do best, which is play fundamentally sound, solid defense and blend pop at the plate with speed on the basepaths to thrive on offense.
It was a no-brainer for Kansas City to keep Cain around. Baseball-Reference.com listed his WAR rating at 7.2 for this past year, which ranked fourth in the American League. He was also third in the AL in the site's power-speed metric, another measure that goes to show his unique impact on the game.
Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star alluded to who may well be the team's next personnel priority:
Blair Kerkhoff @BlairKerkhoff
Signing of Lo Cain leaves #Royals one unsigned arb-eligible player, Mike Moustakas.2016-1-18 21:19:48
After seeing stud starting pitcher Johnny Cueto, key reliever Ryan Madson and veteran outfielder Ben Zobrist all flee in free agency, it has to be refreshing for the Royals to retain someone of Cain's caliber.
Kansas City previously managed to keep Alex Gordon in the fold this offseason and now doesn't have to worry about losing Cain for a while. Manager Ned Yost's core is mostly intact and should be primed for another deep playoff run in 2016 if his key contributors stay healthy.
But there is really only a two-year window remaining to win more championships with the current group of players. That figures to add to the pressure of expectations as the Royals prepare to guard the Commissioner's Trophy.