Poor Kyle Lohse.
Here he is, coming off a career-year with the St. Louis Cardinals, and nobody wants to sign him.
In fact, not only have teams not made bids for the 34-year old righty, every team that he’s been linked to has seemingly found a reason to make statements saying that they’re not interested.
Though Scott Boras, Lohse’s agent, has understandably been doing his job and telling the press that the calls for the free agent are increasing in frequency, the fact remains that Spring Training has started, his client does not have a job, and teams are not biting on the multi-year deal that he’s looking for.
At the heart of the issue is the first-round compensation pick that will go to the Cardinals should any team signs Lohse, and we’ve already seen how that has slowed the job-searching process for Michael Bourn this off-season.
If teams are going to continue to balk at giving up a first-rounder to sign a 34-year old to a multi-year deal, that doesn’t leave too many options for the right-hander. Lohse could a) lower the per-year dollar on a deal significantly, b) sign a one-year deal with a contender, and try again in 2014. The second seems more like a realistic option at this point, unless another team could swoop in like the Cleveland Indians did for Bourn.
But what if the compensation pick wasn’t in play at all? What about c) Lohse waits until after the first-year player draft in June to sign with a team, with no pick attached?
This was an idea brought up, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, by Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke, who wondered if the pick would just disappear if Lohse did not sign by the time it had to be used.
Rosenthal confirmed later that, in fact, it would. While he also noted that it’s almost certainly the case that the free agent will sign with a team “very soon”, the waiting game could provide a better opportunity for Lohse to get the most from a team.
Aside from the fact that he will not cost an extra compensation pick, teams will have had a couple of months to determine their approach for the rest of the season.
An aggressive underdog in a position to make a run could be more generous with their checkbook, as are contending team with injuries (and there are always those by the time Summer comes). Lohse could play into a developing situation of a team needing an immediate move, and get what he wants in the long term by playing up the panic button.
That won’t happen in February, though. No team is panicking right now, and at this point of the year, free agency is a buyer’s market.
Of course, not pitching will could also hurt Lohse’s value, but that’s a risk-reward proposition he might consider taking. Especially if it can get him on a contender he wants, at the price he’s looking for.