Kyle Lohse is in the midst of arguably his best season as a Major Leaguer, and the 33-year-old right-hander is open to discussing a mid-season extension to stay in St. Louis, writes MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch. The Cardinals, however, have yet to approach Lohse with such an offer, according to Langosch.
According to numerous metrics, Lohse is in the midst of a career year. His ERA (2.79), K/BB ratio (3.30), BB/9 (1.6) and FIP (3.56) are all single-season bests for Lohse. His 23 starts tie him for the most in the National League, and his 148 1/3 innings are ninth-most in all of baseball.
Lohse is in the final season of a four-year, $41MM contract extension that he signed late in the 2008 season. Then 29 years old, Lohse passed on the opportunity to test the free agent market following a season that he would finish with a 3.78 ERA in exactly 200 innings. It was a surprising move at the time, especially considering the fact that Lohse is represented by Scott Boras. It would be arguably even more surprising this time around, as this could mark Lohse's last opportunity for a significant contract.
Lohse told Langosch and other reporters that his priority, should he reach free agency, is winning:
"Every year the focus is on winning," Lohse said. "We're not trying to develop something. We're trying to win. With my situation, that's what I'm looking for. If I do go to free agency, they will still be in the mix, I'm sure. But there will be other places to look, too."
Earlier today, Buster Olney suggested that Lohse could approach Mark Buehrle's four-year, $58MM contract if he were to hit the open market. I share Ben Nicholson-Smith's skepticism that Lohse would reach such a lofty sum, given that he lacks Buehrle's durability and consistent track record. However, Boras has worked surprising free agent deals in the past.