Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Westbrook extended, could Lohse be next?

The Cardinals and Jake Westbrook agreed to an extension this week that would bring the righty starter back in 2013 for $8.75MM (previously, there was a $8.5MM mutual option in place), and possibly back again in 2014, if the $9.5MM mutual option is picked exercised.  There’s a $1MM buyout the club could exercise as a 2014 alternative.

The minute this news broke, Cardinal nation started saying their goodbyes to K-Lo.  The general concensus was that he’s pitched so well during his time in St. Louis that he’s priced himself right out of the redbirds’ price range.  (Funny, I don’t remember hearing much from the “Lohse is great” crowd until recently.)  Add that Lohse’s representation is none other than super agent, Scott Boras, and surely Kyle’s days wearing the birds on the bat are numbered.

But hold on a second.

When BD2, Mo, & the gang decided to let Mr. Pujols walk, they were rewarded with financial flexibility for future years.  The Chris Carpenter deal was re-worked (similar to the Westbrook extension we just saw), Yadi was rewarded with a handsome contract, and Jamie Garcia got paid.  Yadi & Jamie got more years than Carp & Westbrook, but that’s in line with expectations, given age, years of service...etc.

According to Cot’s, before the Westbrook deal, the Cardinals were already on the hook for $82MM in 2013 between Holliday ($17MM), Beltran ($13MM), Waino ($12MM), Carp ($12.5MM), Yadi ($14.2MM), Furcal ($7.5MM), and Garcia ($5.8MM).  The $8.75MM for Westbrook brings the team’s 2013 obligations to just south of $90MM.  No way the club could add the ($15MM/yr?) minimum it will take to sign Lohse, and still make sure to lock Wainwright up, at probably the same or higher AAV.  Could they?

Let’s look at the 2014 obligations of the team, at a glance:
  • Holliday - $17MM
  • Molina - $15.2MM
  • Garcia - $7.8MM

Yep.  Forty million bucks.

Let’s get crazy and say that Lohse & Wainwright get $40MM between the two of them (17.5 & 22.5?).  Ok, maybe it’s not crazy, but it’ll suffice for the point I’m trying to make.  You’d have a 2014 rotation of Wainwright-Garcia-Lohse-Westbrook, for less than $58MM.  Add a Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly, Shelby (dare I say it?) Miller...etc, and you’re in good shape.

Before you get too worked up about questions surrounding the offense or other players, let me throw this out there about what 2014 looks like:
  • Freese will be in his 2nd year of arbitration eligibility
  • Motte will be in his 3rd year of arbitration eligibility
  • Craig will be in his 1st year of arbitration eligibility
  • Lynn isn’t even on the map yet.
  • Descalso?  First year of arbitration eligibility.
  • Same with Jon Jay, first year of arbitration eligibility is 2014.
  • Boggs?  He’ll be in his 2nd year of arbitration eligibility.

I’ll grant you that by then, it’s likely that several of those years will have been bought out, but you see the point I’m trying to make, I’m sure.

Zack Greinke is likely to be the among the top starting pitcher free agents this coming off-season, especially now that Hamels has his deal in place.  Lohse compares to Greinke across the board, favorably in many cases.  I can’t speak for sure about the dollars and years, but in terms of value, I think Lohse is likely to be the better pitcher-per-contract-dollar in 2013 and beyond.

Kyle Lohse may not be the first name that comes to mind when you think about $18MM/yr pitchers, but he might not be as far off as you’d think.  As for whether or not the Cardinals could be in the sweepstakes, and afford to bid against the sure-to-be-there “mystery team” for Lohse’s services, I don’t think there’s any doubt they can.  The real questions are: “Will they?” and “How far are they willing to go?”  

1 comment:

  1. First, woohoo, blog post!

    Second, I think the case against Lohse's return is a full rotation and prospects coming more than the money.