Kyle Lohse turned down a one-year, $13.3 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals last November in hopes that he would find a lucrative multi-year deal in free agency. And after posting a 3.11 ERA from 2011-2012, there was every reason to think that someone would bite, even with the draft pick compensation attached. However, with Opening Day just a week and a half away, the 34-year-old right-hander is still out there waiting for the right offer to come along. And his asking price has gone down.
While Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports hears that Lohse was still asking for a three-year, $45 million deal one week into spring training, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that he’s now hoping to at least match the two-year, $26.5 million deal Ryan Dempster signed with the Red Sox over the winter. That’s a pretty steep drop from what many expected he would get at the start of free agency, but it remains to be seen whether anyone thinks a two-year deal is worth surrendering a draft pick.
The Rangers and Brewers remain in contact with Lohse, but Rosenthal hears that the Rockies have also done their “due diligence.” It’s worth noting that Colorado’s first-round pick is protected by virtue of their 64-98 record last year, but they are already stretched budget-wise and Rosenthal was told that it would only happen “if by a very, very remote chance he just flat-out doesn’t have anything.” Lohse may also be reluctant to sign with the Rockies since Coors Field is by far the toughest ballpark in the majors to pitch in. The wait continues.
On Monday, Major League Baseball announced some changes aimed at improving the game’s pace of play, something that has been a pet cause for commissioner Rob Manfred. Among the changes was a limit on mound visits whether from managers and coaches, the catcher, or other defenders. Each team will have six non-pitching change mound visits per game and one additional visit each inning in extra innings. Craig wrote more in depth on the changes here if you happened to miss it.
Angels catcher Martin Maldonado says he is going to do what’s necessary to stay on the same page with his pitchers. Via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Maldonado said, “If the game is on the line, I’m going to go out there. If we’re at six [visits], and it’s going to be the seventh, I’m going to go out there, even if I have to pay a fine. I’m there for the pitchers.”
Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said as much on Tuesday. Per Josh Frydman of WGN News, Contreras said, “What about if you have a tight game and you have to go out there? They can’t say anything about that, that’s my team and we just care about wins. If they’re going to fine me about number seven mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”
Exhibition games haven’t even started yet, but two notable backstops — the lesser-known Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year — are clearly not happy with the rule change. As Craig alluded to in his article yesterday, arguments between catchers and umpires (and, subsequently, managers and umpires) are probably going to become more frequent, which would likely end up nullifying any pace of play improvements.
Update (4:43 PM ET): In response to this, Manfred said that if a catcher or coach made a seventh mound visit, there would have to be a pitching change (via Fletcher). However, chief baseball officer Joe Torre said (via SB Nation’s Eric Stephen) that the seventh visit cannot trigger a pitching change. The umpire would simply have to prevent the seventh mound visit.