Spring training is underway and one the best National League starting pitchers in 2012 is still without a job.
Kyle Lohse has yet to be signed for the 2013 season. The starter is coming off the best year of his career, in which he won 16 games and pitched to a 2.86 earned-run average. Lohse’s three losses gave him the best winning percentage of any pitcher with at least 10 wins.
The hold up over Lohse’s free agency seems to be what prospective teams would have to give up in order to sign him. A team that signs the 34-year-old would be forced to give up their No.1 pick in the upcoming draft.
The St. Louis Cardinals are exempt from this rule, because they would technically be re-signing him. Even with Chris Carpenter expected to miss the entire 2013 season with shoulder problems, the Cardinals have shown little interest in bringing back Lohse.
The Washington Nationals and Cleveland Indians were once in the running for Lohse, but their interest appears to have faded. Todd Zolecki of mlb.com reports that the Philadelphia Phillies are also no longer an option.
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Jim Bowden of ESPN believes that the race to acquire Lohse is down to the Milwaukee Brewers and the Texas Rangers. Milwaukee would have to give up the 17th overall selection to get Lohse, and Texas would forfeit the No.25 pick.
According to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the Brewers are open to the idea of signing Lohse, but nothing is imminent. The right-hander would improve a staff that was 13th in the National League in ERA last year. Yovani Gallardo was the only Brewers pitcher who started at least 25 games, and Lohse would bring some stability to the rotation.
Should Lohse sign with Texas, he might be considered the rotaton's ace. He finished with an ERA that was better than any Rangers starter in 2012. Texas finished in the middle of the AL in 2012, with an overall ERA of 3.99.
The Rangers have some money to spend after a quiet offseason, which included letting slugger Josh Hamilton walk to the Los Angeles Angels. The possible addition of Lohse would bolster the Rangers' chances of contending with the Angels, who are considered favorites to win the AL West.
Before Lohse signs with a team, he will have to drop his asking price. His agent, Scott Boras, is known for, sometimes, making outrageous contract demands.