The Rangers have “repeatedly asked about” Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain in past trade talks and could pursue him when he becomes a free agent this winter, as Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News reports. Fraley points out, however, that the Rangers’ need to rebuild their rotation could limit their ability to spend big on an outfielder this offseason.
Cain, 31, is having a very strong season, hitting .301/.363/.445 over 628 plate appearances with 15 homers and 25 stolen bases. Despite the fact that he’s one of the league’s oldest center fielders, he’s also graded out positively as a defender this year, recording three defensive runs saved and a 2.5 UZR.
It’s unknown whether Texas will attempt to bring back their incumbent center fielder, Carlos Gomez, when he hits free agency this winter. While he’s dealt with multiple injuries, the 31-year-old has a solid .807 OPS this season and has seemed to fit in well with the Rangers. Even if Gomez departs, the Rangers potentially already have four starting-caliber outfielders under contract for next season in Nomar Mazara, Delino DeShields, Shin-Soo Choo, and star prospect Willie Calhoun, though it’s worth noting that the 22-year-old Calhoun has just one hit and no walks in his first 14 big-league plate appearances this month.
Gomez, Andrew Cashner, Miguel Gonzalez, and Jason Grilli are free agents after this season, Mike Napoli and Martin Perez have club options for 2018, and Yu Darvish and Jonathan Lucroy are already off the books after being dealt at the deadline, so Texas will have a ton of available cash this offseason.
While Denard Span and Dexter Fowler’s rapid defensive declines after signing huge free-agent deals in their early 30s may limit the amount of money teams are willing to offer Cain this offseason, he still figures to earn a hefty sum since he’s unquestionably the best hitter among the center fielders on the market.