Kyle Lohse picked a great time to have a career year. At 34-years-old, Lohse completely outdid every year he has ever had in 12 seasons with a 16-3, 2.86 ERA, 1.09 WHIP year over a career-high 211 innings. The problem, of course, becomes how much to offer a guy coming off of what might have the best season of his career. Most 34-year-old pitchers decrease in performance, not break out with Cy Young caliber years.
Lohse was a sub-.500 pitcher with a near-5.00 ERA before he landed in St. Louis. He has definitely turned things around since but has had his share of struggles and injuries with the Cards as well. Sure, he had a 2.86 ERA this year but he had a 6.55 ERA just two seasons ago. If we average out the inconsistent numbers, we see a pitcher more comparable with other “solid” but not great pitchers his age.
Averages Since 2008:
Kyle Lohse: 11-7, 162 IP, 3.90 ERA, 101 K, 1.28 WHIP
Bronson Arroyo: 14-11, 207 IP, 4.24 ERA, 130 K, 1.28 WHIP
Edwin Jackson: 12-10, 199 IP, 4.06 ERA, 153 K, 1.36 WHIP
Aaron Harang: 8-11, 162 IP, 4.24 ERA, 126 K, 1.41 WHIP
Jake Westbrook: 9-8, 150 IP, 4.22 ERA, 90 K, 1.40 WHIP
None of the other pitchers on the list is worth the $15 million per season that Lohse is looking for and pitchers like Edwin Jackson, a fellow free agent, haven’t missed a bunch of games in the last four years like Lohse has. He is a very serviceable pitcher but he is too much of an injury risk as well as a mid-season meltdown that leads to a 5.00+ ERA year-risk for the contract he is looking for. Nevertheless, some team will certainly give it to him, or at least something close.
Estimated Contract: Scott Boras is reportedly seeking a three-year, $45 million contract for Lohse which almost sounds reasonable enough, considering he is over-valuing all of his younger clients.
Possible Lohse Suitors:
Blue Jays: The Blue Jays have made it clear that they aren’t done working on their rotation after acquiring Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle from the Marlins. Toronto is reportedly eyeing Anibal Sanchez, Edwin Jackson, and Kyle Lohse to join those two as well as Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow.
Nationals: While they haven’t completely ruled out re-signing Edwin Jackson, the Nats aren’t particularly intent on keeping Edwin either. They are considering Zack Greinke first but are more likely to go after Anibal Sanchez or Lohse.
Dodgers: With Hiroki Kuroda staying put in New York, the Dodgers are looking to spend the money they offered him on Anibal Sanchez, Edwin Jackson, or Kyle Lohse. Starting to see a pattern here? Sanchez will definitely be the more sought-after of the three but anyone who needs a reliable starter and isn’t willing to spend Zack Greinke money will be looking at Lohse and Jackson.
Brewers: The Brewers are definitely looking to add a veteran pitcher after losing Greinke during the season and Shaun Marcum to free agency. Along with Lohse and Jackson, they are also taking a look at Ryan Dempster.
Red Sox: Another team that really wanted Kuroda but unlike the Dodgers they never really had a chance. The Red Sox would like to add a veteran arm but are probably leaning toward Jackson over Lohse since Boston nearly signed Edwin in 2011. But hey, not all of these teams can have Edwin so eventually someone will opt for Lohse.
Twins: He began his career with the Twins and some reports have linked Lohse to Minnesota but it seems very unlike the Twins to invest a large contract into anyone, much less a pitcher in his mid-thirties.
Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com