Much has been written about free-agent starter Kyle Lohse remaining unsigned as pitchers and catchers report. Even Lohse’s former team, the St. Louis Cardinals, has shown no interest in bringing him back.
The prevailing theory seems to be that teams do not want to surrender their first-round draft pick for a 34-year-old righty. An alternate theory is that Lohse’s agent, Scott Boras, grossly overestimated the interest level in his client, leaving him without a chair when the free-agent music stopped. Whatever the case, one has to think Lohse is anxious to sign with a team and get to spring training.
While Lohse is not an ace-caliber pitcher, he has compiled the best WHIP and HR/9 ratios of his career in the past two seasons. There has to be a market for that, no? Let’s take a look at some teams where Lohse would appear to be a good fit:
Baltimore – after captivating the town with an expected run to Game 5 of the ALDS in 2012, some people expected the Orioles to make a big splash during the offseason. Instead, division rivals Toronto and Tampa Bay made dramatic changes to their rosters, while the Orioles chose to do some minor tinkering. Lohse would have made a much better (albeit more expensive) addition to Baltimore’s rotation than Jair Jurrjens.
Texas – the Rangers missed out on Zack Greinke and still need to upgrade their pitching staff. With Colby Lewis not due back from elbow surgery until at least June and lefty Derek Holland coming off an inconsistent 2012, Lohse would be a reliable presence in the middle of the Rangers’ rotation. The only question is whether Lohse – not a power pitcher – would succeed in the Rangers’ hitter-friendly park.
New York Mets – Had the Mets not been so reluctant to sacrifice their first-round pick (#11 overall), they could have had Michael Bourn patrolling center field. That being the case, it stands to reason that they would not part with that pick for Lohse either. Lohse, however, would be perfect fit for a team that has injury questions surrounding their top three starters (Johan Santana, Jon Niese, Shaun Marcum).
San Diego – The Padres were one of the NL’s best teams during the 2012 season’s final weeks (no, seriously). Lohse would no doubt enjoy pitching in one of baseball’s most pitcher-friendly parks and would slot in nicely between hard-throwing Edinson Volquez and lefty Clayton Richard. Despite how well this move could work out for both sides, spending significant dollars for a free agent is not the Padres’ way.
Cleveland – The Indians have already made several big moves this winter – what’s one more? Lohse would do more to solidify the Tribe’s rotation than their other free-agent acquisitions (Brett Myers and Daisuke “the Human Rain Delay” Matsuzaka). There’s still time. Maybe Lohse’s price will drop enough for the Indians to take the plunge.
Milwaukee – Lohse would represent a major upgrade to a rotation that is paper-thin beyond Yovani Gallardo and Michael Fiers. The Brewers, however, look to be in cost-cutting mode again after fruitless postseason runs in 2009 and 2011, so this would be a surprise.
Of course, the way this offseason has gone, the Toronto Blue Jays are liable to swoop in and sign him. Or maybe the Fort Knox, er, Los Angeles Dodgers. ESPN even linked the Nationals to Lohse recently, which strikes me as a bit baffling. The only thing that seems certain is that he won’t be back with the Cardinals, thanks to their deep reserve of right-handed starters. As the Cardinals recently learned with Chris Carpenter, though, all it takes is one phone call to significantly change a team’s plans.