Kyle Lohse is hitting the open market coming off back-to-back career-years and today Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak admitted that re-signing the free agent right-hander is “probably unlikely.”
Some of that no doubt has to do with Lohse being in line for a big contract, but even if he were somewhat affordable the Cardinals have no shortage of rotation options with prospects Shelby Miller and Trevor Rosenthal joining holdovers Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Jake Westbrook, Lance Lynn, and Joe Kelly. And that’s not even counting Jaime Garcia, whose status is uncertain because of shoulder problems.
Lohse has thrown 400 innings with a 3.13 ERA during the past two seasons, so counting on anyone duplicating that performance stepping into his rotation spot would be silly. Of course, counting on Lohse to duplicate that performance in 2013 and beyond might be just as silly and in the meantime the Cardinals can get younger and cheaper.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times unloaded a lot of interesting news items about the Rays last night, including a report that the Rays might have “mutual interest” in a deal with free agent first baseman/DH Mike Napoli. The Rangers declined Napoli’s $11 million option earlier this month and owe the veteran infielder a $2.5 million buyout.
Napoli, 36, had a strange year in Texas. He turned in 29 home runs, good for 11th-most among AL hitters, but finished the year batting just .193/.285/.428 over 485 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, his -0.5 fWAR was the worst mark of his career to date, but on the bright side, he should come cheap for a team looking to swap out their veterans come spring.
Of course, the specifics of the Rays’ offseason plan have yet to be divulged — or, by all accounts from Topkin, even decided on. The club could go the refurbishment route, changing out some of their higher-paid veterans for a mix of prospects and cheaper aging players; or they could opt for a full rebuild, which Topkin cautions against as it could have a negative effect on the financing of a new ballpark. Either way, the Rays figure to offload some of their bigger contracts this winter, and will need to decide if they want to retain Alex Colome, Chris Archer, Wilson Ramos, Evan Longoria and others before pursuing any other major free agents.