Cheap Seats

Has Lohse pitched his way out of the Cardinals' price range?

Suddenly Kyle Lohse's contract situation is the talk of the town.

I mentioned earlier this season that I would have liked to see the Cardinals extend Lohse for two years if he would accept such a deal.

Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like the odds of that happening are very good at this point, thanks to Lohse having a season that is arguably the best of his career.

Chris Duncan, of ESPN radio and Fox Sports Midwest television, said Monday night that he thinks Lohse might be able to command a $60-million, four-year contract on the open market. And, based on the crazy deals that have been passed around over the past few winters, that doesn't seem far-fetched.

If the Cardinals want Lohse back, they're going to have to hope that he enjoys playing in St. Louis enough to take considerably less than he could get elsewhere. It would also be nice for him to remember that the Birds paid him $16 million in 2009 and 2010 when he was injured and ineffective.

But Lohse is a California guy. And it seems like the Dodgers and Angels might both be willing to spend a ton of money on pitching help. The Rangers are a team that could use a consistent innings eater. The New York teams, the Red Sox, the White Sox and Tigers are all teams that could spend big money to get a pitcher.

Maybe the biggest thing going against Lohse is that he's never been a big strikeout guy. The most he has ever logged in a season in 130. But that was 10 years ago when he was a young guy with the Twins. Since then, he's averaged 96 a year. 

What does it matter if Lohse gets groundouts instead of strikeouts? Some scouts think a lack of strikeouts automatically disqualifies a pitcher as a top of the rotation guy because he doesn't have "an out pitch." I don't buy that. But I do think there is more merit to the other knock on low strikeout guys: They have a lot less margin for error. So when they start to fade -- and Lohse is 33 -- they fade fast.

I'd be in favor of the Cardinals offering Lohse a three-year deal for a maximum of $12-12.5 million a year. But I don't think it's wise to go beyond that -- unless there is some sort of vesting option for a fourth year.

The Birds have an option to bring Jake Westbrook back at a reasonable price if the Lohse deal fails to materialize. But I would much better have the latter than the former if I had a choice.

The Cardinals have a lot of good young arms. But that doesn't mean they can't use a veteran presence in the middle of the mix.

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