Lohse signs one-year pact with Cards
Right-hander inks deal after completing physical on Friday
JUPITER, Fla. -- Ignoring the lessons of a recent television commercial, the Cardinals didn't worry about "sign then drive" with Kyle Lohse. They put the right-hander to work before he even signed a deal.
Lohse, who arrived in Jupiter on Thursday evening, had a busy morning that culminated with his formally signing a one-year deal to join the Cardinals. He underwent a physical with the team's medical staff, threw a bullpen session with Yadier Molina catching and pitching coach Dave Duncan looking on, then put ink to paper to join his fourth team in less than 24 months.
He's expected to bolster a rotation that currently has four pitchers sidelined with various physical ailments.
"I pretty much found out Wednesday that this was a possible destination, and we got it done pretty quick," Lohse said on Friday morning. "I wanted to get over here. I didn't think this was a possibility, coming over here, but unfortunately the way the injuries and situations have come about, it ended up being a good fit. I've always liked going to St. Louis, and it's a good situation for me."
Lohse has been plenty busy as he's waited for a chance to pitch for a big league team. A resident of the Phoenix area, he's spent the past two weeks in Southern California pitching to college hitters.
His last outing before Friday was a 75-pitch session on Monday, divided into three simulated innings against hitters from NCAA powerhouse Cal State-Fullerton. Per Duncan, Lohse will face hitters this coming Monday at Roger Dean Stadium prior to pitching in Grapefruit League action.
"I was getting anxious to get into camp somewhere," Lohse said. "I knew I was going to end up somewhere. It wasn't like I thought I was going to sit at home the whole year. It was just finding a good fit, and I think we found it."
If all goes according to plan, Lohse will be available to pitch at the start of the regular season.
"That's why I set myself up the way that I did," he said, "so that I could come in here and be ready to go."
The Cardinals acknowledged on Thursday that they would be bringing Lohse in for a physical, but would not confirm that a deal was in place. On Friday, they formally announced the addition. Lohse will earn a reported $4.25 million.
That's a drastic change from the four- and five-year deals reportedly sought originally by his agent, Scott Boras. The Cardinals would have liked to add a club option for 2009, but were not able to make that happen.
"We were always waiting to find what was the best time to take advantage of an opportunity," said general manager John Mozeliak. "In Kyle's case, we weren't real comfortable with a multiyear deal and some of the things we were hearing. But as things got later into spring, it started to be something that showed it might be an opportunity for us, and we decided to take a chance."
Mozeliak acknowledged that signing Lohse is a direct response to the dearth of healthy starters in Cardinals camp. Lohse immediately slots in as the second or third starter in the St. Louis rotation.
However, the Cards also believe that Lohse might turn into something more than simply an innings-eater. As compared to Jeff Weaver, another free agent, the hope is that Lohse has much greater potential.
"Putting him in an environment where it's a pitcher-friendly ballpark, working under [Duncan], being a part of this club, we think makes a lot of sense for him to have success," Mozeliak said.
Lohse split 2007 between the Reds and Phillies, going 9-12 with a 4.62 ERA, 122 strikeouts, 57 walks and 22 home runs allowed in 192 2/3 innings. He has pitched at least 190 innings in three of the past five seasons and has made at least 30 starts in five different seasons. For his career, Lohse is 63-74 with a 4.82 ERA.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.