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.
Bryce Harper, who said he was tired after taking his cuts in the first round, certainly appeared gassed in the final round. So, too, did his dad, who was throwing to him. But Harper caught fire, going on a tear and tying Kyle Schwarber with 18 home runs before time expired in the final round of the 2018 Home Run Derby. Harper unlocked 30 seconds of bonus time by hitting two home runs at least 440 feet. With his second swing in bonus time, Harper homered to straightaway center field for No. 19. He tossed his bat in celebration, grabbed his trophy, then gave it to his dad before he was mobbed on the field by his All-Star teammates.
Harper hit 13 home runs in the first round, eliminating Freddie Freeman and advancing to the semifinals. In the semis, Harper topped Max Muncy 13-12 to advance to the finals. On Schwarber’s side of the bracket, he bested Alex Bregman 16-15, then defeated Rhys Hoskins 21-20.
Harper is the first member of the Nationals (or Expos) to win the Home Run Derby. Harper participated in the 2013 Derby but finished in second place behind Yoenis Céspedes. Harper is also the first left-handed hitter to win the Derby since Prince Fielder in 2012. The only players to win the Derby in their home park are Todd Frazier in 2015 and Ryne Sandberg in 1990.
As a spectator, the 2018 Home Run Derby was tons of fun. The four-minute clock adds a lot of tension and intrigue even to the initial rounds. Seeing teammates cheer and get excited for their teammates in the Derby is really fun. Of course, watching dinger after dinger is cool, too. Can’t wait for next year.