Kyle Lohse Rumors

NL Central Links: Garza, Cubs, Lohse, Pujols

With the Cubs and Brewers both more than 14.5 games out of first place, the NL Central figures to be the source of plenty of rumors this summer. Both teams have an ample amount of trade chips that should ultimately exchange hands. Here's the latest out of the division…

  • The Nationals, Dodgers, Phillies, Orioles and Blue Jays all had scouts on hand to watch Matt Garza's dominant start against the Brewers today, tweets MLB.com's Carrie Muskat.
  • Cubs president Theo Epstein told ESPN Chicago's Sahadev Sharma that he owes it to the organization to explore trades of Garza and the team's veteran players to improve the future. Garza added that he doesn't pay attention to rumors.
  • From that same piece, Epstein said that trading for additional pool space in this year's international free agency market isn't a huge priority, though he didn't specifically deny rumors that the Cubs are looking to acquire additional funds. For those who don't recall, the new CBA will allow teams to trade international spending money.
  • Teams have ramped up their evaluations of Kyle Lohse to determine if he's a worthwhile trade target, according to ESPN's Buster Olney (on Twitter).
  • Albert Pujols told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that St. Louis is still a special place for him and it made him the person that he is today. The longtime Cardinal said he's slightly bitter about the way the front office handled his departure, though he declined to get into specifics on the topic.

Brewers’ GM Melvin Discusses Gallardo

Brewers GM Doug Melvin continues to be frank about how the trade deadline may shape up for his underachieving team.  Talking to Anthony Witrado of Sporting News, Melvin said on Monday, "For us to win games moving forward, Yovani [Gallardo] should be a part of that, but some teams get in pennant races and need that one guy to get them over the hump.  It’s not a slam dunk that I’m going to trade Yovani or [Kyle] Lohse, but you never know. There’s a lot we have to consider about our club right now." 

Gallardo is "already a guy teams are charting," an NL Major League scout told Witrado.  The 27-year-old righty may emerge as the best starting pitcher available this summer.  Cliff Lee may not be available (and some teams would be priced out anyway), while Jake Peavy is on the DL with a rib fracture and Matt Garza comes with the uncertainty of a ten-month layoff.  Plus, as Melvin explained, "That Yovani is not a free agent like guys like [Zack] Greinke or Anibal Sanchez last year, he has more value than just two months of a rental, so the package from another team has to be something that will wow me."

Gallardo will have about $2.6MM remaining in 2013 salary at the July trade deadline, and then is owed $11.25MM in 2014 and has a $13MM club option with a $600K buyout for 2015.  He can block trades to ten teams, including the Orioles.  Having strung together 21 scoreless innings over his last three outings, Gallardo chopped his ERA from 5.25 to 4.09 in the course of about two weeks.  Overall he hasn't missed bats this year like he used to, but he still looks like a sub-4.00 ERA pitcher moving forward.  The Orioles, Padres, and Giants are among the contenders known to be seeking starting pitching, but almost any team could make room for Gallardo.

Melvin spoke in praise of relievers John Axford and Francisco Rodriguez, who appear to be trade candidates.  The Brewers make for an interesting seller, as Lohse is another useful starter and they could offer up one of the market's better bats in Aramis Ramirez.


AL West Notes: Rangers, Lohse, Ankiel, Norberto

The Rangers took plenty of flak this offseason for missing out on all of their big targets — namely Zack Greinke and Justin Upton. However, USA Today's Bob Nightengale notes that the team is currently tied for the best record in the American League and also has the AL's best pitching staff despite a host of injuries. Nightengale tells pitching coach Mike Maddux to "take a bow" and praises the organization's recent emphasis on pitching. Here's more from the AL West…

  • A deal between the Rangers and another heavily rumored target — Kyle Lohse — was never particularly close, GM Jon Daniels tells Sahadev Sharma of ESPN Dallas. Daniels said the Rangers were very interested in seeing if MLB would allow a one-time sign-and-trade exception for Lohse in order to keep their draft pick, but the situation never reached that point because agent Scott Boras found a market for Lohse. The Rangers never made Lohse an offer.
  • The decision to designate Rick Ankiel for assignment "crushed" the Astros' clubhouse, Carlos Pena told Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle. Pena says that every player on the team loved Ankiel, a testament that Brandon Barnes echoed to Smith. Smith notes that Pena is now alone in his role as elder statesman of a young, inexperienced team.
  • Jordan Norberto told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that he understands why he was released by the Athletics earlier today. He knows the A's are in a tough spot due to injuries and a full roster, but said he loves the organization and fans and would like to re-sign there. Slusser cautions that there will be plenty of interest in Norberto from other teams, and she even adds that she's already been contacted by an AL scout asking how Norberto's rehab is progressing. Norberto has begun throwing after being shut down for a month.


Odds & Ends: Phillies, Span, Nats, Lohse

Earlier today, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com looked at ten big league managers whose jobs could be in jeopardy this season.  Charlie Manuel of the Phillies makes the list as he is in the final year of his contract and potential replacement Ryne Sandberg is on the coaching staff.  Ron Gardenhire is another manager could be on the hot seat because of pressure from upper management, but if it's up to GM Terry Ryan, he won't be going anywhere.  Here's more from around baseball..

  • Baseball could be entering a golden age for trades thanks to changes in the CBA and the wave of extensions reducing the talent level in the free agent pool, writes Joel Sherman of New York Post.  Teams are also no longer under the impression that a handful of superpowers will dominate the market, giving other clubs with championship aspirations confidence to make bold moves.
  • The Nationals' trade for Denard Span indirectly stemmed from maneuverings involving the Upton brothers, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  The Nats, according to a major league source, made a strong attempt to trade for Justin Upton early in the offseason.  But when that didn't happen, GM Mike Rizzo refocused on finding a left-handed hitting center fielder who could bat leadoff and rarely struck out.  Span fit the description perfectly and the Braves' signing of B.J. Upton to a five-year, $75MM deal scared them off the free agent market.
  • After the Cardinals learned that they would be without Chris Carpenter this season, Kyle Lohse says that he got calls from his former teammates, but not the front office, to gauge his interest in returning, writes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  When asked if he thought they were curious or gathering intelligence for the club, Lohse said: "Both."

NL Notes: Lohse, Lilly, Mets

The Brewers' Kyle Lohse visited with his old team in the Cardinals' clubhouse on Saturday, MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch reports. Lohse signed with the Brewers after a long offseason that began with Lohse and his agent, Scott Boras, declining the Cardinals' qualifying offer. There wasn't much of a market for Lohse after that, mostly because the team that signed him would have to sacrifice a draft pick. He finally signed a three-year, $33MM deal with the Brewers. Lohse reflects on the twisting path that led him to Milwaukee: "[Declining the Cardinals' qualifying offer] makes me look bad, [because] that's a lot of money. But is it fair value for what I had done? No," says Lohse. "Even going back on it, I'd still do the same thing. You have to go out and take your chances. Now, going forward, I don't know what other people in my situation are going to do." Here are more notes from the National League:


Quick Hits: Rangers, Posey, Dodgers

Here are a few more notes from around baseball:

  • Former Rangers hurler C.J. Wilson discussed the "communication issues" with the Texas front office that, he says, led him and other free agents to leave the club, reports Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com. "When you're a free agent and the team that you're with tells you that they don't think you're that good or whatever, it doesn't give you any incentive to sign back," said Wilson. "They've played the whole wait-and-see card. It didn't really work with [Josh] Hamilton and it didn't work with me, either."  A glance at MLBTR's Extension Tracker shows that Texas has been willing to pay its own in some circumstances, giving large extensions to players like Matt Harrison, Ian Kinsler, and Derek Holland.
  • The Giants entered their huge extension with backstop Buster Posey knowing that there is a good chance he will have to change positions, writes ESPN's Buster Olney. Posey, a former shortstop, could be moved to third or first in as few as two years, notes Olney. In the meantime, the club can let the situation evolve and see what happens with talented younger players like Brandon Belt and Pablo Sandoval. For his part, Posey says he would be willing to change positions if "it's something that'll help the team," but that his "passion is being behind the plate,"tweets John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle.
  • There are a dozen big league skippers on the hot seat this season, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  Don Mattingly of the Dodgers, Mike Scioscia of the Angels, and Terry Collins of the Mets all made Rosenthal's list.

Zach Links contributed to this post.


NL Notes: Garland, Cook, Puig, Brewers, Soriano

Making his first start in a Rockies uniform tonight, recently-signed Jon Garland made such an impression with his groundball-inducing ways that the club tweeted his groundout to flyout ratio (2.5:1) through five innings. 

  • Garland has substantial incentives in his contract with the Rockies that could raise its total value to $3.1MM, explains Troy Renck of the Denver Post. In addition to his base $500k deal, which will fully vest if he stays on the 25-man roster for 45 days, Garland can earn up to $1.35MM for innings pitched (the pay starts at 105 IP and increases up to 195 IP) and up to $1.25MM for starts made (with the incentives kicking in at 20 starts and continuing to 32 starts). 
  • The Rockies are expected to consider the possibility of inking righty Aaron Cook, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post tweeted earlier today. Cook, who was released earlier today by the Phillies, is (like Garland) known as a groundball artist.
  • In spite of being sent to Double-A today by the Dodgers, Yasiel Puig has been so impressive that he may enable the club to effectively buy even more young talent from other clubs, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. As Rosenthal explains, if L.A. is able to replace either Carl Crawford or Andre Ethier with Puig, they could then offer to pay for much of the balance of the contracts of those expensive veterans to extract quality prospects from a trade partner. According to an unnamed rival executive, "It's smart actually — the only way to really build a farm system under the new rules. And you can only do it if you've got big dollars."
  • The Kyle Lohse signing was a substantial investment for the Brewers at three years and $33MM, but owner Mark Attanasio says that it will not prevent the club from "being able to make another move," reports Rosenthal. In particular, Attanasio expects to be in a position to re-sign first-baseman Corey Hart, who falls just outside the top 10 anticipated 2014 free agents in MLBTR's TIm Dierkes's 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings. While the Brewers sought to add to their rotation without losing a draft pick when they made an offer to Ryan Dempster before he joined the Red Sox for two years and $26.5MM, Attanasio explained that, "at the time we made the Dempster decision, we thought Kyle would go at a higher price." Finally, Rosenthal notes that Lohse can earn three separate paydays totalling an additional $1MM for reaching 190 innings pitched over each of the next three seasons.
  • Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano has been a popular topic of trade speculation, with the presumption being that Chicago would try to get whatever prospects and/or salary relief it could. Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times wonders, however, whether Soriano is now too valuable for the team to consider dealing. For his part, Soriano raves about the team's new front office and coaching staff, explaining how they changed the culture from one in which he felt singled out for the team's failings to one in which, "if we lost, we lost like a team; if we won, we won like a team."

Kyle Lohse Signing Reactions

Kyle Lohse's long winter ended yesterday, as the 34-year-old righty signed a three-year, $33MM deal with the Brewers.  According to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Lohse will receive $4MM in 2013, with $7MM deferred in 2016-18, and $11MM salaries in '14 and '15.  The players' union values the Lohse deal at $31.95MM over three years, factoring in the deferred money, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  The Brewers also had to surrender the 17th overall pick in the June draft, while the Cardinals gained the 28th for their loss.  Lohse has been throwing bullpens and simulated games, and will begin the season on the Brewers' active roster.  Let's check out some Lohse reactions and links:

  • Olney doesn't think the Lohse signing made sense for the Brewers, as the loss of the draft pick means they are "drifting into more talent debt."  The Brewers "pushed forward at a time when it really needed to take a step back," writes Olney.
  • Keith Law, also at ESPN, feels the contract is "pretty reasonable relative to market values for starters of his caliber."  Law also feels the Brewers are "sliding out of contender status," but notes that the contract seems tradeable later on.  Lohse did not receive a no-trade clause, noted Rosenthal.       
  • Agent Scott Boras "doesn't lose, even if he didn't exactly win" on the Lohse deal, writes Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs.  Lohse should have gotten a higher average annual value, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, but he's not convinced the new draft pick compensation system needs an overhaul.
  • "When you have a system that does not reward performance, you know we have something corrupt in the major league process," Boras told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.  Boras says baseball should remove the financial motivation for teams to lose, as the worst teams receive the largest pools of draft dollars.  The current system allows bad teams to make up ground on the good ones, which wasn't possible before, Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said on Law's podcast a few weeks ago.  Is it fair, though, that the Astros have significantly more draft dollars to spend than the Nationals?  It's good for parity, though teams don't necessarily lose because of their market size.      
  • "Losing the first-round pick is tough, but that's a decision we had to make," GM Doug Melvin told reporters including Haudricourt.

Brewers Sign Kyle Lohse

The long wait is over: Kyle Lohse has officially signed a three-year, $33MM contract with the Brewers that includes an additional $1MM in performance bonuses. The Boras Corporation client passed his physical this afternoon and will join his team for the remainder of Spring Training. "This signing makes us a better club today than we were yesterday," said general manager Doug Melvin in a team-issued press release that confirmed the signing.

The Brewers will forfeit the 17th overall pick and the accompanying slot money in the June draft, while the Cardinals will gain the 28th overall pick. Lohse will reportedly earn just $4MM in 2013, followed by salaries of $11MM in 2014-15. The contract contains $7MM worth of deferred money that will be paid out from 2016-18.

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Lohse, 34, seemed en route to a large contract after posting a 2.86 ERA, 6.1 K/9, 1.6 BB/9, 0.81 HR/9, and 40.5% groundball rate in 211 regular season innings for the Cardinals in 2012, and pitching well the year prior.  Turning down the Cardinals' one-year, $13.3MM qualifying offer seemed the right call in November for a player I considered the 10th best free agent available.  However, partially because of the draft pick compensation issue, Lohse languished on the market nearly until Opening Day.  Agent Scott Boras, whose contract demands were the other major factor in Lohse's wait, told ESPN's Jerry Crasnick in January, "It doesn't really matter what time dinner is when you're the steak."  Lohse had been throwing simulated games in Arizona, but it's unclear when he'll be Major League-ready.

Having traded Zack Greinke midseason and lost Shaun Marcum to free agency, the Brewers were hurting for a veteran rotation presence behind Yovani Gallardo.  It seems likely that Boras made his appeal at the Brewers' ownership level, convincing Mark Attanasio to make the win-now signing and give up the draft pick.

The Rangers were the runner-up for Lohse, though they never made an official offer, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports was the first to report the agreement (Twitter link). USA Today's Bob Nightengale tweeted the financial details, while ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reported the details on Lohses's incentives (via Twitter). MLB.com's Adam McCalvy reported the breakdown of Lohse's salary and deferred money (on Twitter).

Steve Adams contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Kyle Lohse Rumors: Sunday

On Friday, we learned that the Blue Jays are at their payroll limit and won't pursue Kyle Lohse and once again heard that the Rangers aren't likely to sign the right-hander. Teams such as Angels, Rockies and Brewers have been connected to Lohse recently. Here's the latest on the former Cardinals hurler…

  • Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets that the Twins are not one of the teams who have been scouting Lohse's simulated games in Arizona. The Twins have been hungry for starting pitching, but there doesn't appear to be interest in bringing back Lohse, who started his big league career in Minneapolis.
  • Club officials have told ESPN's Buster Olney that Scott Boras continues to ask for $14-15MM per season for Lohse (Twitter link).