Now that the Red Sox have filled all the major holes in their lineup, they’ve shifted their focus to pitching. Boston improved their bullpen on Thursday with the acquisition of Koji Uehara. However, they still have at least one major hole in a rotation which was depleted by injuries and ineffectiveness in 2012. After a potentially interesting option in Brandon McCarthy signed with the Diamondbacks yesterday, the Red Sox need to get going in that area much like they did with the lineup– signing Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino among others.
Although he doesn’t fall in the first tier of free agent starters like Zack Greinke and Anibal Sanchez, Kyle Lohse is a starter that the Red Sox have expressed interest in. Lohse turned heads with a strong 2011 season for the World Series winning Cardinals, and followed it up nicely with a career year in 2012– going 16-3 with a 2.86 ERA. Although Lohse did benefit from a very low BABIP and slightly less impressive peripherals, he did set career bests in wins, ERA, innings pitched, and strikeout and walk rates.
There is still a bit of concern for the 34 year old Lohse, though. He is a fly ball pitcher and reaped the benefits of a home run rate well better his career average in 2012. Moving from Busch Stadium to Fenway Park, one could expect that home run rate to rise a bit and his ERA rising with it. Lohse has proven that he can still pitch well in the big leagues even into his mid-30’s.
Being in his mid-30’s, though, the Red Sox would have to be sure to sign him to a short term contract. MLB Trade Rumors reports that the Red Sox “would be expected to jump in on Kyle Lohse is he was willing to accept a three year contract.” It’s hard to imagine Lohse receiving a contract for more than three years, so expect to see the Red Sox as major players for him.
Although his numbers would likely take a turn for the worse moving into the AL East and Fenway Park, Lohse could still be an effective pitcher. If the Red Sox could sign him on a similar contract to Mike Napoli or Shane Victorino. Since the Cardinals did extend a qualifying offer to Lohse, however, the Red Sox would have to give up a compensation pick in the supplementary round (40th overall) to the Cardinals. That would be an obvious downside to a potential Lohse signing. If he was willing to sign on an inexpensive contract for two or three years, however, I’d jump on Lohse to be the #2 or 3 starter in Boston for the next few years.