Monday, February 25, 2013

Why Not Kyle Lohse?

Kyle Lohse is the only major free agent player left on the free agent market, unless you count Jose Valverde, which maybe or maybe not you should.  Just where oh where will he end up and why is it taking this long.  That is the question on spring training minds.  Why not Kyle Lohse?  Why is he being frozen out of the major free agent market.  Well, there's lots of stories about why and most center around the new collective bargaining agreement and being a player who was offered arbitration at $13.3m and declined it.  Seemed like a good idea at the time and could be about the amount Lohse signs for for one year, with a caveat that next year it won't be offered.  So teams are unwilling to pony up a contract he probably deserves.  SPRO projects four years and $68,125,000.  They don't want to offer that much money and lose a first round draft pick.  Now there are teams that wouldn't have to do that, ... the first ten worst teams for last year have a protected pick and would lose only a second.  Teams that have already signed players and lost their first pick would now be losing their second or third, i.e. the Cleveland Indians.  But why are they picking on Lohse to make this case.

Last year Kyle Lohse had one of the best seasons for any pitcher in baseball and every staff in the game could use a season like that from another pitcher on their staff this coming year.  But this was Lohse's best year ever, by a pretty good margin, making the case that you would be buying high.  But, geez, they've done that plenty of times before, and to Lohse's credit, it's not like his best years, even beyond last year, haven't been after the age of 30.  His three best seasons have come at age 30, 33, and 34.  But there is that gap of two years, which concerns some with a contract that long.  But why is Lohse being held to a standard that others have not been.  That's a great question and it seems to come down to dumb luck.  Dumb luck that Lohse probably asked for too much money at the beginning of the process and became, to some extent, a pitcher playing musical chairs with one less chair than he'd like.

Now we expect some team to come through in the end, but not at the dollars and length SPRO suggests.  Rumors are the Texas Rangers are in the hunt, and as a team that wants to win now, has lost pop and offense in free agency, it makes sense to try to overcome that with pitching.  As noted earlier, we think he might get a 1 year contract at slightly north of the qualifying offer, perhaps between $14m and $16m per year, with a potential club option for extending years, but with the clause of no qualifying offer next year if he has to go on the market again.  And he should probably take that kind of deal if offered.  It is spring training right now and the season will be starting soon, after all.

PS - For those of you who think Jose Valverde is number 2, and wonder what SPRO says Jose should get, but probably won't.  See some of the same reasons from above ... SPRO 3 years $23,068,000.  He'll probably have to accept a one year deal in the $5m to $7m range though.

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