With only 15 days remaining until the start of the MLB season, free agent starting pitcher Kyle Lohse, Nomlaki Nation, is still without a team.
“He’s doing his workouts, and we’ve continued talking with a number of teams,” ruthless superagent Scott Boras, who reps Lohse, told Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. "A lot of teams are evaluating their existing situations, but have called and have interest in Kyle.”
Five years ago Lohse, 34, went through a similar struggle, signing with the St. Louis Cardinals this late in spring training, landing a one-year, $4.25 million deal. But the star Native right-hander wasn't coming off a season in which he went 16-3 and finished seventh in National League Cy Young Award voting for best pitcher either.
According to Rosenthal, Lohse is working out both near his home in Arizona, facing college hitters in simulated games, and at a facility operated by his agent, Boras — the Boras Sports Training Institute in Aliso Viejo, California. He is facing hitters at the institute too, and threw 85 pitches in his most recent outing, Boras said.
Lohse’s market is slow in part because he is subject to draft-pick compensation, but executives also cite his high asking price — a three-year deal with a “big” average salary, according to one exec, reports Rosenthal. Lohse earned $11.875 million last year with the Cardinals. Draft-pick compensation for signing the Nolamki pitcher from Chico, California, would be elminated after the upcoming draft, which takes place June 6-8. But that's more than two months into the new season.
Boras previously got relief pitcher Rafael Soriano (2 years, $28 million, with a vesting $14 million option for a third season, from the Washington Nationals) and center fielder Michael Bourn (a shocking 4-year, $48 million deal from the Cleveland Indians) much bigger contracts than most people expected given their late signing dates, but with three weeks until the season begins holding out for a three-year deal for a 34-year-old pitcher seems extremely unlikely to happen, writes Aaron Gleeman of the NBC Sports Hardball Talk blog.
A team reportedly to still be one Boras says are contacting Lohse is the Texas Rangers (despite headlines as recent as March 6 like: "Rangers Won't Sign Kyle Lohse"). It does seem like the Rangers would be a good fit for Lohse, considering that club's injury problems and that the draft pick they'd have to give up by signing him is relatively low in order.
Two of Texas's starting pitchers, left-hander Martin Perez and righty Colby Lewis, are expected to be out until early May with injuries. Another of their starters, righty Alexi Ogando, is converting from the bullpen to the rotation. And their first pick in the draft isn't until number 24, plus they'd still have a first-rounder, at number 30, which they received from the Angels for losing their free-agent slugger, Josh Hamilton.
Lohse set career bests in wins (16), earned run average (2.86), strikeouts (143) and innings pitched (211). In 2011 the Native hurler went 14-8 and helped the Cardinals win the World Series. And yet, Lohse's still looking for work.
For now, Lohse is letting Boras do the public speaking for him, while he goes about the business of getting into baseball shape so he'll be ready to start when he is finally signed.