Pitchers and catchers are almost set to make their way to Spring Training. In less than two weeks, all players that won’t be participating in the World Baseball Classic will have reported to their respective teams.
Players that were seeking seven-figure contracts, like Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke, were signed earlier in the offseason, while a few free agents that could be major contributors are still available.
One of the most notable unsigned players is Kyle Lohse. The pitcher had a big year in 2012, but remains unsigned despite teams' strong interest in bolstering pitching.
Few pitchers were more productive than the St. Louis Cardinals starter. With a 2.86 ERA, Lohse ranked fifth among NL starters. His 1.09 WHIP was fourth in the league, and his 16-3 record gave him the best winning percentage of any starter with more than 10 wins.
The righty also proved that he can get the job done in the playoffs. In three of his four postseason starts, he allowed no more than two runs.
The lack of consistent success may be the biggest reason that Lohse is still a free agent. At 34 years old, he’s had just three seasons with an ERA of less than 4.00. He won 30 games in his last two years with St. Louis, but won less than 10 games in six of his previous seven seasons.
The veteran may have to settle for a one-year contract. Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun has reported that the Orioles could be interested in signing Lohse on a short-term deal. However, the starter may not be interested in playing in the American League East. There had been rumors that the Boston Red Sox would be a player for Lohse, but it doesn’t appear that the club is interested.
The most likely destination for Lohse might be back with St. Louis. The Cardinals had seemingly moved on from the pitcher, but news that Chris Carpenter is probably done for the 2013 season with an injury could change that.
St. Louis is the one place that Lohse has had consistent success. Since he played for the Cardinals in 2012, the team wouldn’t have to worry about giving up a compensatory draft pick, which is something that has scared off potential suitors.
Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak says the team is comfortable with its current staff, but that could change as Spring Training gets closer. Adam Wainwright and Jake Westbrook appear to be the only pitchers with guaranteed spots in the St. Louis rotation.