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Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Lorenzo Cain hasn't played his best baseball this season. The 36-year-old is hitting just .179/.231/.234 through 43 games. With the team bringing in Andrew McCutchen and Hunter Renfroe in the offseason, Cain's time on the roster was nearing an end.
That end came Saturday, as the Brewers designated Cain for assignment. That would normally be a sad story. Cain, a two-time All-Star and World Series champion, might have reached the end of his major-league career.
But in waiting until Saturday to make the move, the Brewers actually did a classy thing. Saturday marked Cain reaching 10 years of service time in the majors. That's a momentous number in baseball. Once a player hits 10 years of service time, they become fully vested members of the union and earn a full pension from MLB.
Service time is calculated in a unique way. Each MLB season features roughly 187 days per year. If a player spends the entire season with a team, they would accrue 187 days of service time. In order to receive a year of service time, a player needs to register 172 days. Players still accrue service time when they are on the Injured List.
Cain split time between the majors and minors in 2010, 2011 and 2012, which helps explains why he needed to play a few months into his 13th season in MLB to reach 10 years of service.
Cain may have known or expected his release was in the works, as it was reportedly a mutual decision.
Is Lorenzo Cain going to retire from MLB?
Cain discussed his future Saturday. He didn't definitively say he was going to retire, but hinted at being done, saying, "The body is definitely ready to rest, for sure."
Lorenzo Cain showed up to his first baseball practice in 10th grade wearing a collared shirt, jean shorts and basketball shoes. Then he played 10 years in the Majors, made two All-Star Games, won a Gold Glove and a World Series.
Today, he was DFA’d by the Brewers. pic.twitter.com/HOe5EJuXEc
— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) June 18, 2022
Cain also discussed the wear and tear he's put on his body over his time in the majors.
If Cain is done, it wouldn't come as a huge surprise. He made similar comments to Andy McCullough of The Athletic earlier in June. Cain said there was a good chance he would retire from baseball during the upcoming offseason.
Cain could try to hook on with another club for the remainder of the season. He still plays solid defense and can steal a base.
But if this is it, Cain should be proud of the legacy he leaves behind. Cain put up a career .283/.343/.407 slash line over 13 seasons in the majors. He played an excellent center field, winning a gold glove in 2019. He personified the 2015 Kansas City Royals, where Cain's ability to make solid contact and wreck havoc on the bases helped define the team.
Cain came to baseball late in his life. On Saturday, he discussed showing up to his first practice wearing a collared shirt and jean shorts. To go from that to earning an $80 million deal in the future and becoming a fully vested member of the union is one heck of an accomplishment.
Cain's career deserves to be celebrated Saturday. And the Brewers deserve at least a tiny bit of goodwill for letting Cain reach an incredibly rare baseball milestone.