Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Dwindling options for Lohse
By Jason A. Churchill
Right-hander Kyle Lohse is one of three members of Keith Law's Top 50 free agents that has yet to sign contracts for 2013. He came in at No. 6 overall. The other two are relievers Jose Valverde (No. 34) and Francisco Rodriguez (No. 46).
Lohse's market may have collapsed, limiting his options and perhaps forcing him into short-term deal, rather than the 3-4 years many expected when the offseason began. Like Michael Bourn, who agreed to terms with the Cleveland Indians Monday for four years and $48 million, Lohse is a client of the Scott Boras Corporation. Boras was able to get Bourn a solid contract despite waiting this long, so it's certainly not out of the question the same happens with Lohse.
If the 34-year-old has to settle for a 1-2 year contract, the market could open up some, perhaps even to the Bronx, where the Yankees are avoiding multi-year free agent deals, but could use some added stability in the rotation. The draft-pick compensation attached to Lohse is certainly a factor, but the Yankees have picked up two compensation picks at Nos. 32 and 33 overall, and could be amenable to forking over the No. 27 pick to sign Lohse. It may be prohibitive to do so for one year of any player, however.
Other fits could include the Baltimore Orioles, who lost out on Joe Saunders and both their 2013 and future rotation is all but set with Jason Hammel set for free agency after this season and the deal with Jair Jurrjens on hold and frankly up in the air.
The Rangers failed to add to their rotation this winter and could see Lohse as a big help, but it doesn't appear they will be the team giving Lohse the 3-4 year deal he covets. Again, however, a shorter contract may change everything.
The Dodgers were linked to Lohse back in December and the Indians have considered Lohse to strengthen their rotation. Cleveland, having already added free agents Bourn, Mark Reynolds, Nick Swisher, and Brett Myers for $117 million guaranteed, do not appear to be interested in Lohse, tweets ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney.
The Yankees may be the most intriguing thought here, but don't appear desperate for starting pitching -- certainly not enough to risk busting their plan to get under the luxury tax threshold for 2014. CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda figure to be reliable pieces to the rotation. Phil Hughes may not be far behind after 191 innings and an above-average ERA of 4.23. Ivan Nova is the favorite for the No. 5 spot and both Michael Pineda and Manny Banuelos could become factors during the season.