February 22, 2013 by Matt Musico
It’s been a real tough winter for Kyle Lohse. With most teams starting either their Grapefruit League or Cactus League schedules this weekend, the Scott Boras client is still without a home for the 2013 season. Why is he still unsigned with Opening Day almost a month away? It’s certainly not because of his recent performance.
His last two seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals have been stellar; in 2011, he helped St. Louis bring home their second World Series title in five years, and pitched to a 14-8 record with a 3.39 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and 111 strikeouts in 188.1 innings pitched. He followed up that strong campaign with an even better one; he put together a 16-3 record to go with his 2.86 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and 143 strikeouts in 211 innings pitched, while placing seventh in NL Cy Young voting. These performances had him and his agent seeing dollar signs this winter, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
The 34-year-old was extended a qualifying offer by the Cardinals, which he denied, and that could’ve been the biggest reason why he’s still searching for a job in 2013. Since he declined the $13.3 million offer, St. Louis is entitled to get the first round draft pick of any team that signs Lohse. This looks to be the biggest obstacle for the right-hander to get a legitimate offer. There are teams looking for pitching depth (like the Yankees with Phil Hughes going down already), but at this point in the year, Lohse won’t command a multi-year deal, as team’s would also be hard-pressed to hand him a one-year contract when they also have to give up a draft pick.
What makes it even worse is that the Los Angeles Dodgers have too many starting pitchers, and teams in need of some depth for their rotation could try and strike a deal with them for either Chris Capuano or Aaron Harang. Not only would that be a much cheaper option than trying to agree on a number with the Boras corporation, but they’d also hold onto that top draft pick.
One would hope a team would step forward and sign Lohse before the season starts, but if he’s still sitting on the sidelines, it would take until June before there wouldn’t be draft pick compensation attached to signing him, which would make him a very attractive mid-year acquisition. At this point, that seems to be the best case scenario for him, which is a shame. It’s clear Lohse has finally put it all together on the field, with his mental and physical ability meeting in the middle, but this could be a blessing in disguise for him.
If he doesn’t get signed until June, he would have his choice of offers from contenders willing to pay a premium for a top-of-the-line starting pitcher without having to sacrifice any prospects. His arm would also be fresh for the second half and any potential postseason run.
We’ll see how this situation plays out, but it stinks to see someone as good as Lohse not find a place to play yet, but this is one of the occasions where Scott Boras looking for the most money possible actually hurts his client.
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