Free agent Kyle Lohse says new compensation system hurting him
Free agent right-hander Kyle Lohse said the offseason has been a little slower than expected, in part because of new free-agent compensation rules.
|Kyle Lohse will likely be wearing a new uniform in 2013. (US Presswire)|
This year Major League Baseball made a major change in the way it handles draft-pick compensation for free agent signings. Gone are the Type-A and Type-B free agents. Now there's just one type, and a team has to offer a one-year contract worth $13.3 million (the average salary of the top 125 free agents from the previous winter) to qualify for the draft pick.
A total of nine players were offered qualifying salaries across baseball and none accepted. Of those nine -- Josh Hamilton, David Ortiz, Michael Bourn, Kyle Lohse, Adam LaRoche, B.J. Upton, Hiroki Kuroda, Rafael Soriano and Nick Swisher -- four are still on the market. Two of the nine -- Ortiz and Kuroda -- re-signed with their previous teams, while Hamilton and Upton cost the Angels and Braves the No. 22 and No. 28 picks, respectively. The Indians didn't have to give up their No. 5 pick for signing Swisher because as a top-10 pick, it was protected. That leaves LaRoche, Soriano, Lohse and Bourn.
One of those four, Lohse, says the new system is working against him.
Speaking with the ITD Morning After show on St. Louis' KFNS-AM, Lohse said it's been quieter than he expected.
"Obviously, it's been a little slow, a little slower than anticipated," Lohse said. "I think the whole first-round draft pick thing is slowing things down. It's going to eventually work itself out -- it's not like I'm not going to be out of baseball. Something will happen here down the road."
First off, it's refreshing to hear Lohse talk about his "struggles" being not so bad. But it's still possibly costing him money. He also makes a good point that while signing him will cost a team a draft pick, other pitchers who were traded during the season do not come with that cost.
"It's not exactly an open, free market when you attach such things on a guy like myself, but yet a guy like a Zack Greinke or Anibal Sanchez got a get-out-of-jail-free card because they got traded midseason, so the rules don't pertain to them," Lohse said. "I'm obviously a little biased, but the rules could use some tweaking."
Lohse also pointed out that another interesting thing about the new compensation system is that not only do teams want the pick, they also want the money that goes into their signing pool for having the extra pick. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote about that on Wednesday, and it's interesting reading.
As for where he might end up, Lohse said he doesn't think the Cardinals are interested (noting he hasn't spoken to general manager John Mozeliak in "three or four months"), and he also doesn't see himself ending up near his Arizona home. In the end, he notes, it could be worse.
"There are different expectations I had that might not come through, but bottom line is I'm lucky to be in the situation that I'm in and paid a lot to do it," Lohse said. "It could be a lot worse, I'm not too worried about my expectations early in the offseason not being met."
Of the four free agents who will cost a team a draft pick, three have the same agent -- Scott Boras. Of those four players, only LaRoche is not a Boras client. Boras is notorious for keeping his clients on the market longer than others, earning him the nickname "Mr. January."
Boras is also known for his ability to find loopholes in the system to get his clients more money. One of the ways this could happen, Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan writes, is sign-and-trade deals. It's an interesting thought, and we'll see how it shakes out. But as Lohse says, all four will be OK in the long run.
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