Lots of baseball GMs are going to have a tough decision ahead of themselves this winter. Should they sign Kyle Lohse to a big multi-year deal? I’ll leave the in depth look at Lohse’s abilities to people more qualified.( thecardinalnationblog.com/2011/04/27/breaking-down-kyle-lohses-2011-success/ ) But, looking at some of his numbers and what similar pitchers have signed for in free agency in last year’s free agent market, we can find a nice number that Lohse can expect from his new contract.
Will it be an albatross deal that a team trades in a salary dump a year from now? I’m looking at you Boston. Could it be one of the best value signings of the last 5 free agency periods? I tend to think it is going to fall in between.
Let’s start with the obvious Lohse is not a shut down ace in the class of Verlander, Kershaw and Hernandez. So he will not be getting a contract like one, if a smart GM is involved anyway. Take a quick look at some comparable players and their contracts from the 2012 MLB Free Agent market. We’ll have to mix and match a bit because Kyle Lohse has a unique combination of age and a great year. Lohse is 34 with a career ERA of 4.45 and only two years in his career under 4.00. However, in this contract year (always a good year), Lohse pitched over 200 innings (3rd time in his career) with 143 K’s, a 1.09 WHIP (walks+hits/innings pitched) and best of all, a 2.86 ERA. That is a career year far above expectations for a pitcher like Kyle Lohse.
C.J. Wilson was 4 years younger when he signed his contract in last year’s free agency period. He went in with a 2.94 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, and 173 K’s. A pretty similar year to Lohse’s, but he also had a much better track record and a better chance to live up to a 5-year contract. On other end of the spectrum, we can look at Hiroki Kuroda, a 37 year old pitcher that ended last year with a 3.07 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP with 161 K’s. C.J Wilson ended up with a 5-year $77.50 million contract and a $2.5 million signing bonus. Kuroda on the other hand, partially by his own choice, got a 1-year deal worth $10 million and a no trade clause.
Age is clearly a HUGE factor for front offices when it comes to deciding who to sign and for how long. Lohse doesn’t have the track record to support his great year as he is 34 and has shown what kind of pitcher he tends to be. Someone will probably pay him a contract between these two, possibly with a buy out after the first year for protection. If I had to guess, a team in a pitcher’s park may take the chance on Lohse with a 3/4-year $40-50 million deal. I don’t think Lohse will mind too much, that sounds like a fantastic last contract to cash in during the late stages of his career.