May 11, 8:10am: Lohse tells Tony Boone of the Omaha World-Herald that this is “probably it” for his career, though he left the door open slightly in the event that a team approached him with an opportunity (Twitter link). It doesn’t sound as though agent Scott Boras will be actively pursuing new opportunities for his client, though.
May 10, 11:25pm: Shortly after being released by the Royals this afternoon, veteran right-hander Kyle Lohse took to Instagram to suggest that he is retiring from baseball after spending parts of 16 seasons in the Majors.
“It’s been a hell of a ride,” Lohse wrote with a view from the stands at a minor league game. “Baseball, you’ve taken me a lot of places I’ve never thought or even dreamed of. The highs. The lows. The people I’ve met. The teammates I’ve had the pleasure of battling alongside. The guys on the other teams I’ve had the pleasure of battling against. Time to take it to the house knowing I gave it all I had each and every time.”
Lohse made a comeback bid with the Royals this year after not pitching professionally in 2017, signing a minor league contract on March 31 but ultimately being knocked around in a pair of Triple-A starts. That, apparently, was enough to set the 39-year-old’s mind at east as he rides off into the sunset following a long and successful playing career.
Originally a 29th-round pick of the Cubs in 1996, Lohse was never considered to be an elite prospect. He went from the Cubs organization to the Twins by way of 1999’s Rick Aguilera trade and found himself in the big leagues for an up-and-coming Twins team a couple years later in 2001. Lohse’s rookie campaign was hardly noteworthy (5.68 ERA in 90 1/3 innings), but he settled in as a durable workhorse for the Twins the following season.
From 2002-05, Lohse averaged 32 starts and 189 innings per season, pitching to a 4.61 ERA with 5.4 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9. That, of course, was a markedly different era of baseball, as evidenced by the fact that Lohse’s collective 4.61 ERA in those 754 1/3 innings translated to an ERA+ of 99 — meaning he was roughly a league-average starter for the Twins in a heightened offensive period for baseball.
Lohse was eventually flipped to the Reds in 2006 and would spent parts of the next two seasons in Cincinnati and Philadelphia before setting into the Cardinals’ rotation for half a decade. Lohse enjoyed some of his best seasons in St. Louis, including a 2011 season that saw him post a 3.39 ERA in 30 starts for the World Champion Cardinals and a 2012 season in which he posted a career-best 2.86 ERA in 211 innings. Lohse started the NL Wild Card game for the Cards in 2012 and took home the win in that game, setting up St. Louis for another run to the NLCS. In all, he posted a 3.90 ERA in 809 innings for the chief rival of the club which originally drafted and traded him.
Following his strong run with the Cards, Lohse inked a three-year, $33MM deal with the Brewers, remaining in the NL Central and again serving as a thorn in the side to two former organizations — at least for the first two years of his deal. Lohse signed late in Spring Training in 2013 but proved to be well worth the investment when he tossed 397 innings of 3.45 ERA ball for the Brewers in the first two seasons of his deal. He stumbled in the final season of that contract, however, losing his rotation spot and finishing the year in a bullpen as he limped to the finish line with a 5.85 ERA. Lohse threw just 9 1/3 innings in the Majors after that point — all coming with the 2016 Rangers.
Lohse never made an All-Star team and only received Cy Young votes once in his career — a seventh-place finish in 2012 — but will still go down as one of the best 29th-round picks in history (even if Ken Griffey Sr. can probably lay claim to the top spot). Few players selected that late in the draft approach the type of career that Lohse had. At a point in the draft when most players selected are organizational filler, he forged a 16-year playing career that saw him post a 147-143 record with a 4.40 ERA, 1615 strikeouts, 12 complete games and even nine shutouts over the life of 2531 2/3 Major League innings. Lohse earned more than $89MM in a career that was valued by Baseball-Reference at 19.6 wins above replacement and at 26.3 wins above replacement by Fangraphs. Best of luck to Lohse in his post-playing days.