Former Cardinal turned free agent Kyle Lohse is still without a team.
It seems like a logical fit, but not necessarily.
Lohse was good for the Cardinals when he was healthy. Once he got his forearm issue under control, he became a valuable asset to the team. He had a successful 2012 going 16-3 and leading the National League in win percentage.
He was in the best position of his career to go into free agency. Thanks to the changes to draft pick compensation for free agents, however, no one seems willing to take a gamble on him.
The Cardinals may fit into that same mold.
While on the surface it may seem like the easy move, in reality, the Cardinals and Lohse aren’t the tight fit they once were.
There are several reason the Cardinals should move on.
First, Lohse is seeking more than the Cardinals will want to pay—both in dollars and years.
If it was for one year, they might be able to make a deal work, but otherwise, it wouldn’ be in the best interest of either party.
From a performance perspective, the chance that Lohse will have a better 2013 performance to further springboard his free agency is slim. While it’s possible, that would be a huge gamble on his part.
This is his final chance for a decent payday and a one-year deal would likely hinder him.
From the Cardinals' perspective, they have tons of young pitching. Several of those young arms project as starters, so to bring in another long-term veteran simply wouldn’t make sense.
Second, the Cardinals hope to re-sign Adam Wainwright. Paying Lohse $14 million per year would likely complicate any negotiations with Wainwright.
Besides, with Carpenter going on the DL as opposed to retiring, they will have to continue paying him this season. Losing Carpenter is not going to create any payroll flexibility.
Signing an additional big league pitcher would mean increasing their payroll beyond its current limits.
Third, the Cardinals are comfortable with the options they have and, in all reality, may not need Lohse.
Between Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal and Joe Kelly, Jr., there is a strong crop of future pitchers ready to take to the mound in 2013. In an effort to make the best of a bad situation, the Cardinals have an opportunity to push their youth to the forefront this year and build toward their future.
Last, but not least, the Cardinals gain a draft pick if Lohse signs elsewhere. If they sign him, they forfeit that pick.
With so many young arms making the move now to the big league team, they will be looking to add more new talent to the farm system. With one of the most stacked minor league systems in MLB, there is little doubt they would like to keep that reputation.
Throwing away high draft picks is not the way to do that.
There is still one x-factor in play that could affect how the Cardinals view Lohse: Jaime Garcia.
While both the front office and Garcia believe he has improved, until he arrives at Spring Training and begins to pitch, nothing is certain.
In the event that there is a problem with Garcia, that would leave the Cardinals with two veterans in their rotation: Adam Wainwright and Jake Westbrook. That is not the ideal scenario.
That is the only scenario where I can see the Cardinals making a move for Lohse.
Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak has shown that he is quite savvy when it comes to juggling the roster and dealing players, so there is little reason to doubt that the Cardinals will manage to work around this loss as they have many before it.