Kyle Lohse Rumors
Earlier this week, it was reported that the Rangers were keeping in contact with agent Scott Boras regarding Kyle Lohse. However, a club source says tells T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com that Texas won't be the team to take the top remaining free agent off of the market.
“We are not going to sign Kyle Lohse. I can’t be clearer than that," said the source.
Some wondered if the Rangers might ramp up their pursuit of Lohse in the wake of Martin Perez's injury, given that the fractured ulna will keep him from throwing for about a month. However, it looks like Jon Daniels & Co. will instead look to get by with what they already have in-house.
Even though Lohse has sat on the shelf for much longer than anyone anticipated, Boras is reportedly seeking a three-year deal with a "big" annual salary. It's still not clear which teams could be in on the 34-year-old as the Yankees and Indians are also not interested in signing him. Recently, Tim Dierkes predicted that Lohse would eventually settle for a one- or two-year deal.
MONDAY: The Rangers appear to have increased their interest in Lohse following Perez's injury, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported today that the Scott Boras client seeks a three-year deal with a high annual salary.
SUNDAY, 7:11 pm: The Rangers announced via press release that lefthanded starting pitcher Martin Perez suffered a fractured ulna in his left forearm when he was struck by a liner in today's game. The press release states that Perez is "not expected to resume a throwing program for approximately four weeks while the fracture heals."
While it is still unclear whether Perez's injury will have any impact on Texas's interest in Lohse, several commentators have raised that possibility, including CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman, Bill Shaikin of The Los Angeles Times (on Twitter), and Buster Olney of ESPN.com (also on Twitter). Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says that, despite the drawbacks to a Lohse signing from the Rangers' perspective, "discussions are almost certain to grow more serious" after the injury to Perez.
While Perez will likely miss a minimum of two months while he recovers and rehabs, T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports that Texas still seems disinclined to look outside of the organization to fill its fifth-starter role. GM Jon Daniels said that the team would "look around at external options, but I expect to go internally at this point." He added that, "knock on wood," the Rangers "hope to get both Colby [Lewis] and Martin back a month into the season, give or take."
10:54 am: The Rangers have remained in contact with agent Scott Boras about the possibility of signing Kyle Lohse, according to Jeff Wilson of the Star-Telegram. Unsurprisingly, Texas is hesitating in part because of the draft pick compensation tied to the pitcher.
Some in the Rangers organization don’t want to surrender the No. 24 pick or the money that comes with it, even though they received the No. 31 overall pick after losing Josh Hamilton. However, others in the front office say the need to win now is worth sacrificing the draft choice. Ultimately, Wilson sees the pairing as unlikely but still possible at some point in spring training.
Earlier this week, we learned that the Indians and Yankees are not in on the right-hander.
The Rangers have a number of reservations about signing Kyle Lohse, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports wrote last night. The free agent right-hander would require a multiyear contract, and the Rangers would have to surrender a draft pick to complete a deal. They'd also have limited time to get him ready for the season with Spring Training already underway. Here's more from Rosenthal, starting with some additional information on Lohse...
- One of the teams in touch regarding Lohse says agent Scott Boras seeks a three-year deal with a “big” annual salary for the 34-year-old, Rosenthal reports (on Twitter). Boras doesn’t give teams specific numbers in negotiations.
- A ton of scouts are in Lakeland to watch trade candidate Rick Porcello face the Astros today, Rosenthal reports (Twitter links). The Angels, Rangers, Diamondbacks, Twins, Braves, Yankees, Red Sox, Athletics and Mariners are among the many teams with scouts at the game, though some of those scouts are presumably there on regular assignments.
The market for Kyle Lohse still seems quiet, even as Opening Day approaches. Agent Scott Boras called the Yankees about Lohse this week only to hear that they aren't interested, ESPN.com's Buster Olney reports (Twitter links). The Indians aren't in on Lohse either, having already expanded payroll to accommodate free agents Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn.
The Yankees' rotation looks vulnerable now that Phil Hughes is questionable for Opening Day. However, the Yankees avoided free agents linked to draft pick compensation this winter and seem intent on keeping their first round pick. Plus, signing Lohse to a multiyear deal could make it difficult to avoid baseball’s luxury tax by 2014.
The Indians would only have to surrender a third round selection to sign Lohse, so draft pick compensation isn't an issue for them, Olney writes. Instead, Lohse's asking price seems to be the primary obstacle. The Indians’ rotation includes considerable uncertainty from top to bottom, so interest in Lohse would make sense at the right price.
MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk recently examined the market for Lohse in detail. Other potential suitors include the Angels, Brewers and Cardinals.
The MLBPA's Michael Weiner calls MLB's qualifying offer system "mostly good" but imperfect, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports (on Sulia). Weiner expresses concern about the fact that Kyle Lohse is currently without a team, and suggests that Michael Bourn and Adam LaRoche might have gotten bigger contracts if not for the qualifying offer system. Weiner says "there will be discussions" about improving it. But, Weiner says, the system reduced the number of players whose free agency status was connected to draft pick compensation from "over 30" to nine.
In the 2012 draft, however, teams only lost nine picks as a result of signing free agents, and only three of those picks were first-rounders. In 2013, the qualifying offer system will reduce the number of lost picks only slightly. Three teams (the Nationals, Braves and Angels) have already lost their first-rounders, and there could be another when Lohse signs. The Indians, meanwhile, will lose two later picks for their signings of Nick Swisher and Bourn.
Here are more notes from around the majors..
- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire isn't concerned about the fact that his contract expires after the season, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today. "I'd like to stay here," says Gardenhire. "If it works out, it works. If it doesn't work out here, will I manage somewhere else? Well, I know I'm not ready to quit being a manager." The Twins lost 96 games in 2012 after dropping 99 in 2011.
- Buster Olney of ESPN argues that MLB should ban home-plate collisions. Olney quotes a source who puts the dollar value (based on the value of a marginal win) of blocking home plate at $125K, and points out that the Giants lost far more than that when Buster Posey missed much of last season with an injury sustained in a home-plate collision.
- The Marlins and Diamondbacks have discussed the status of pitcher Josh Booty, Steve Gilbert of MLB.com writes. The 37-year-old Booty is a non-roster invitee to Diamondbacks camp, but the Marlins drafted him with the fifth overall pick in 1994 and signed him with the idea that he would not pursue football. After he retired from baseball to play quarterback at LSU, the Marlins placed him on the restricted list, meaning that they technically still own his rights. Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall says the Marlins won't worry about it, however, unless Booty establishes himself as a potentially credible big-leaguer. "The Marlins are OK. They said go ahead and use him how you want in the spring," Hall says. "Their concern is if he's Major League material, they either have the right to him or the right to a trade. That's OK, we'll cross that path when we need to."
In 2008, Kyle Lohse waited until March to sign and landed in the place he'd call home for five seasons -- St. Louis. Spring Training is underway again, and Lohse again remains unsigned. However, unlike 2008 when he had a career 4.82 ERA, Lohse is coming off a 3.11 ERA over his past 399 1/3 innings. ESPN's Buster Olney talked to a longtime MLB evaluator who says in addition to draft pick compensation, AL teams are wary of Lohse's poor AL track record. The evaluator also added that teams shy away former Cardinals pitchers, as they often struggle to find success elsewhere (Twitter links).
More from around the Majors...
- Phillies ace Cliff Lee told Jayson Stark of ESPN that he was "baffled" by the way the Rangers treated Michael Young in his final years with the team. Lee called Young the "perfect teammate" and the "heart and soul" of the Rangers team. "...in my opinion, you want guys like Michael Young around," said Lee, who was reunited with his former teammate after the Phillies traded for him this winter.
- Both Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins have offered strong praise for Phillies prospect Domonic Brown this Spring, writes David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News. Murphy opines that both players feel this is the time to finally give Brown a chance to be an everyday Major Leaguer.
- Michael Weiner, the exeutive director of the MLB Players Union, spoke with reporters (including Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca) about drug testing and the possibility of more severe punishment for players who have been discovered to have multiple offenses in the past. Weiner discusses the fine line between representing players who are subject to discipline and attempting to enforce a clean game. Weiner also says that after Spring Training, there will be discussions about whether or not the new qualifying offer system is working as intended, given the damage to Lohse's market.
- Former Twins, Rangers and Astros minor leaguer Mark Hamburger has been suspended for 50 games after testing positive on two instances for recreational drug use, according to Baseball America's Matt Eddy. Hamburger, a free agent after being released by Houston earlier this month, would have to serve out his suspension upon signing with a new team.
MLBTR's Mark Polishuk examined the market for Kyle Lohse and wrote it would be very surprising to see the Royals make a move for him. Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star agrees, even if a rash of injuries were to hit their starters, because the Royals are $10MM over their projected break-even point in payroll. Dutton adds James Shields, Ervin Santana, Jeremy Guthrie, and Wade Davis can't pitch poorly enough this spring to lose their spots in the rotation. Elsewhere around the American League:
- The Yankees will not let the way Alex Rodriguez's ten-year, $275MM contract has panned out affect their negotiations with Robinson Cano, GM Brian Cashman told ESPN Radio's Ian O'Connor (transcript courtesy of ESPNNewYork.com). "There's only so much you can spend, but we'll look at Robbie as an individual, not as it relates to whatever we're doing with Alex Rodriguez and our commitment and the regression we have experienced with Alex," said Cashman.
- The Yankees announced Curtis Granderson will miss the next ten weeks with a fractured right forearm after being hit with a pitch during today's Spring Training game. Non-roster invitees Matt Diaz and Juan Rivera plus minor leaguers Melky Mesa and Zoilo Almonte are the in-house candidates to replace the Yankees' leading home run hitter from a year ago, tweets the YES Network's Jack Curry.
- If the Yankees do go outside the organization to replace Granderson, they can find a better option toward the end of camp, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.
- A deal for Alfonso Soriano could make sense for the Yankees and the Cubs have made it clear to the industry they would be willing to pay much of the $36MM owed Soriano for the next two years, according to ESPN's Buster Olney (Twitter links).
- Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com asked if the Yankees turn to Vernon Wells to replace Granderson. If so, the Angels would still have to eat a majority of the $42MM due Wells over the next two years (Twitter links).
- Orioles manager Buck Showalter told reporters, including CSNBaltimore.com's Rich Dubroff, he's satisfied with the DH candidates already in camp and will not scour the free agent market. "We’re answering the questions here,” Showalter said. “We’re going to find it right here. We spent a lot of time getting this group in. We’re going to look in our backyard." Wilson Betemit is the main candidate to DH against right-handers while Russ Canzler and Danny Valencia are the favorites against left-handers. Dubroff also sees Nolan Reimold in the mix as well as regulars whom Showalter wants to give a breather.
There's always a free agent left without a chair when the music stops and Spring Training begins, but rarely is the tenth-best one unsigned on February 23rd. That's the situation with Kyle Lohse. Back in October I questioned the idea of a four or five-year contract for the 34-year-old righty, and four months later, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes that three years "should get it done at this point."
Brewers sluggers Ryan Braun and Corey Hart offered praise for Lohse in talking with Heyman, but also expressed confidence in the team's current rotation. Heyman writes that Brewers owner Mark Attanasio "has been involved" in the team's talks with agent Scott Boras, but GM Doug Melvin said, "Things change. You never know. But at this point, we want to look at our [young] guys first." Melvin noted that he's not opposed to giving up a draft pick to sign a 30-year-old to a three or four-year deal, but given Lohse's age, Heyman says the GM is not anxious to surrender the 17th overall draft pick. As for the Attanasio note, he spoke about Lohse a week ago, saying, "There's not an active conversation. But our ears are always open."
In his article, Heyman runs through the eight most likely players for Lohse, whose market was examined by our own Mark Polishuk a couple of days ago. The Angels, ranked fifth on Heyman's list, are "not interested in Kyle Lohse, have not talked about him in some time," according to Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times. I think Lohse will end up with a one or two-year deal, perhaps with a vesting option, and I'd look toward teams that would not stand to lose a first-round pick to sign him. Having already signed two players who turned down qualifying offers, the Indians stand to lose the least by adding Lohse. They would forfeit their third-round choice.
Few players have generated as much news as Kyle Lohse this winter, though they're not the headlines that Lohse and agent Scott Boras would've hoped to see at the beginning of the offseason. Lohse posted a 3.11 ERA and a 3.18 K/BB ratio over 63 starts (399 1/3 innings) with the Cardinals over the last two seasons and looked well-positioned to find a nice contract and yet as Spring Training gets underway, Lohse is still looking for a new team.
There are a few reasons why Lohse is still on the market, such as his age (34), injury history and the fact that Boras seeks nothing less than top dollar for his clients. That said, the main reason for Lohse's lack of success in free agency seems to be the draft pick compensation tied to him as a free agent who turned down a qualifying offer. The teams with the 20 best records in baseball last season must surrender their first round draft pick in order to sign Lohse, and most teams see that first-rounder as more of an asset than Lohse's services.
Lohse has been connected to several teams this winter but seemingly just as many have declined their interest in the right-hander. Here's a breakdown of where each team in the sport stands in the Lohse sweepstakes...
Marlins: It will be a while before Miami again pursues significant free agents, and even longer before we see one of those free agents actually sign with the Marlins given the bad publicity generated by their fire sale this winter.
Mets: While the Mets considered signing Michael Bourn (another qualifying offer free agent) and asking the league for an exemption to allow them to keep their 11th-overall draft pick, the club was willing to go to those lengths since it had a glaring need for Bourn in the outfield. The Mets are well stocked with pitching, however, so they aren't a fit for Lohse.
Nationals: Boras' relationship with the Nationals is well-documented, with several Boras Corporation clients (including Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg) already on the roster and Rafael Soriano joining the list this winter. There was speculation that the Nats could pursue Lohse if Gio Gonzalez faced a suspension for his alleged connection to PEDs, but the latest news regarding the infamous Biogenesis clinic may clear Gonzalez's name.
Phillies: GM Ruben Amaro confirmed that his club isn't interested in Lohse. The Phillies don't really have room for another expensive arm and they're set with Kyle Kendrick and John Lannan at the back end of their rotation.
Brewers: GM Doug Melvin has been open about his reluctance to pay what he feels are inflated prices for free agent starters this offseason, yet the Brewers have stayed on the fringes of the Lohse hunt. Boras has had conversations with Brewers owner Mark Attanasio and Attanasio has said that his team could be interested at the right price. ESPN's Jim Bowden, in fact, recently predicted that Lohse would end up signing with either Milwaukee or Texas before Spring Training is over.
Cardinals: As soon as the news broke that Chris Carpenter was out for the season and possibly facing retirement, speculation immediately arose that Lohse would re-sign with St. Louis, a possibility that seemed wholly unlikely at the start of the offseason. The latest word is that the Cards still aren't interested, as they will first see how their young starters look before exploring Lohse or other external options. The Cardinals wouldn't receive a compensation pick if they re-signed Lohse, of course, but having a familiar, proven veteran might be of greater value to a contending team than a sandwich pick.
Cubs: Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein surprised many by signing Edwin Jackson this winter, but as Hoyer explained, Jackson fit what they was looking for in terms of a durable, young pitcher. Lohse is simply too old for a Cubs team that is still at least a couple of years away from contending.
Pirates: Though FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi thinks they're "a great fit" for Lohse, the Pirates aren't interested. I agree with Morosi --- Lohse projects as the ace of a rotation that currently consists of A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez, James McDonald, Francisco Liriano and Jeff Karstens. The Bucs would lose the 14th overall pick in next year's draft but they still have another first-rounder (ninth overall) as compensation for not signing Mark Appel last year. Everything seems to work, except for the fact that Lohse is probably too expensive for the Pirates.
Reds: Cincinnati already has five starters and Aroldis Chapman is joining the rotation this season, so there's no room for Lohse.
Diamondbacks: No need for Lohse in the desert, as the Snakes already have several promising young arms competing for rotation spots.
Dodgers: Not only do the Dodgers already have eight pitchers for five rotation spots, their surplus is actually hurting Lohse's market since the Dodgers' spare starters come at a cheaper price, as ESPN's Buster Olney has observed.
Giants: The World Series champions are set for starting pitching.
Padres: This could be a dark horse option, though only if Lohse's price drops significantly. From Lohse's perspective, there are few better places for a pitcher to rebuild value than at Petco Park. The Padres went into the offseason looking to acquire veteran pitching depth and only picked up Jason Marquis. It has been reported, however, that the Friars are more likely to acquire a pitcher through a trade than through free agency if they do make another move. Signing Lohse would also cost San Diego the 13th overall pick in next year's draft.
Rockies: Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post recently noted that the Rockies aren't willing to spend on major free agent starters, and Lohse probably has no interest in pitching at Coors Field anyway.
Orioles: Lohse would become Baltimore's ace and would provide valuable innings to a young rotation that has a lot of injury-related question marks. Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reported last month that the O's are keeping tabs on Lohse in case his price dropped or if he was willing to sign a one-year deal, though Connolly didn't think the Orioles would be willing to give up the first-rounder.
Rays: Even if Tampa Bay wasn't loaded with young pitching, Lohse is too expensive and the Rays are loath to give up draft picks.
Yankees: Phil Hughes' injury has left the Yankees looking for pitching depth, but GM Brian Cashman said that he wasn't looking at Lohse. The Yankees don't want to sacrifice the draft pick, plus they're trying to get under the $189MM luxury tax limit for 2014 so Lohse is too expensive for the moment.
Indians: The Tribe aren't interested, according to Buster Olney, but they make sense as a landing spot for Lohse. Cleveland's rotation is still a weak point and since the Indians have already splurged by signing Bourn and Nick Swisher, you could argue they might as well spend some more to address their pitching. The Indians' first round pick is protected, and they've already given up their second-round and competitive balance round (69th overall) picks for Bourn and Swisher, signing Lohse would only cost the Tribe a third-rounder. Sacrificing three draft picks may be a step too far for a smaller-market team like Cleveland, however.
Royals: James Shields, Wade Davis and Ervin Santana all joined the Royals' rotation this winter, thus satisfying K.C.'s need for starting pitching. The Royals' first-round pick is protected, so signing Lohse would only cost money, but it would be very surprising to see Kansas City make a move here.
Tigers: Rick Porcello and Drew Smyly are fighting to be Detroit's fifth starter and one of the two could end up being traded, so the Tigers don't have room for Lohse. I guess you can't completely rule them out given Boras' relationship with Tigers owner Mike Ilitch but it's very improbable.
Twins: I actually predicted Lohse would sign with the Twins in this year's MLBTR Free Agent Prediction Contest, but Minnesota instead went with low-cost starting pitching options. They're not going to suddenly decide to start spending now and pursue Lohse.
Angels: Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Jason Vargas, Tommy Hanson and Joe Blanton project as the Halos' rotation, plus they have Garrett Richards and Jerome Williams. Despite this depth, the Angels could use another solid arm to boost their World Series hopes, and only Weaver presents a clear upgrade over Lohse. This is no doubt the argument that Boras has himself been making to Angels management. L.A. isn't interested, however, since they don't have payroll space and isn't sure how Lohse will perform in the American League.
Astros: Even if Lohse has to settle for a reduced contract, that deal might still end up being worth more than the entire payroll of the 2013 Astros. It will be at least a few years before the rebuilding 'Stros pursue even mid-tier free agents.
Athletics: Lohse is too expensive for the A's and unnecessary given Oakland's young pitching depth.
Mariners: Spending on a major free agent starter doesn't make much sense for the M's given the number of top pitching prospects on the way up and the fact that their stadium transforms most pitchers into Lohse-level starters anyway. Combine this with Seattle having to surrender the 12th overall pick to sign Lohse and this looks like a bad fit.
Looking at the field, I'd say that the Cardinals seem like the most logical candidate, with the Pirates, Orioles, Brewers, Indians, Padres, Angels, Rangers and (only because of the Boras factor) Nationals as longshots. You see Scott Boras' problem --- every team has at least one reason to not sign Lohse. That said, Boras is known for finding healthy contracts out of seemingly impossible markets for his clients. If a team loses confidence in its pitching situation during Spring Training or a top ace gets injured, Lohse's long wait may pay off after all.
MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner addressed reporters at Mets camp today, discussing draft pick compensation and the Mets’ franchise player. Here are some details (all Twitter links)...
- Weiner said he expects to discuss draft pick compensation with MLB before the current collective bargaining agreement expires, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports. It sounds as though the MLBPA would like to consider changes to the system that affected the leverage ofplayers such as Michael Bourn and Kyle Lohse. "The compensation affected those guys fairly dramatically this year, and we would like to try to address that,” Weiner said.
- Weiner said he hopes the Mets spend more, as chairman & CEO Fred Wilpon has said they will (via Mike Puma of the New York Post). "I think everybody would like to see the Mets as a competitive team, and it's going to require a higher payroll,” Weiner said.
- David Wright knew that he would have been a highly coveted free agent if he didn’t sign with the Mets long-term, Weiner said (via Anthony DiComo of MLB.com). "David understood that if he went out to market he’d probably make more money, and perhaps substantially more money," Weiner said. Wright signed an eight-year, $138MM extension with the Mets in December.
- Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com notes that MLBPA exec Bobby Bonilla collects more money from the Mets than any of their current outfielders. Bonilla, who spent parts of five seasons with the Mets, still collects deferred payments from the club.