After winning a career-high 16 games, posting the lowest ERA of his career (2.86) and finishing in seventh place in the National League Cy Young race last season, former St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Kyle Lohse seemed to be looking at a major payday as he entered free agency this past off-season.
Yet, the man who won the Wild Card game for the Cardinals is still unemployed as Spring Training has begun for the 2013 season. His former Cardinals team seems to have little interest in him, even after they lost Chris Carpenter for the season yet again.
While their are still clubs out there that have not yet rounded out their pitching rotations, one rumored destination for Lohse should be completely ruled out: the New York Yankees. While it was believed after the 2012 season that the Yankees could make a run at Lohse, nothing ever materialized. Now, despite some rumblings the Yankees could be interested if Lohse lowered his contract demands to one or two years, there is really no reason for the Yankees to add the right-hander to their rotation, at least at the moment.
After resigning both Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda to one-year deals for the 2013 season, the Yankees already know who their top four starters will be. Pettitte and Kuroda will join ace C.C. Sabathia and Phil Hughes in the Yankees rotation once again. The fifth spot will likely come down to Ivan Nova and David Phelps. While Lohse’s numbers were better than both Nova’s and Phelp’s, the Yankees like what they have in their two young right-handers.
More so, the Yankees do have starting pitching depth in the minor leagues. The loser of the fifth spot battle will likely be the first person summoned if one of the top five starters suffers an injury. It’s also reasonable to believe that Michael Pineda and prospect Manny Banuelos, who missed all of the 2012 season due to injury, could become return during the 2013 season and contribute to the big league club. There is also still Dellin Betances, who looks to rebound from a disastrous end to the 2011 and entire 2012 season that saw him compile a 6.44 ERA.
Basically, the Yankees have more than enough starting pitching to get by.
Now, a rotation spot could open up if the Yankees trade away one of their starters, primarily Hughes. As he enters the final season of his deal, Hughes could become trade bait for the Yankees, as they might be wary of giving the right-hander a long term deal since they look to keep their payroll under the $189 million threshold for the 2014 season.
The team still has to lock up Robinson Cano to a long-term deal, meaning other Yankees looking for extensions (like Hughes and Curtis Granderson) could be looking at their last year in pinstripes.
In the meantime, any chance of Lohse joining the Yankees is just a pipe dream.