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What to do with Kyle Lohse?

Considering from every angle the actions the St. Louis Cardinals could take with rehabbing pitcher Kyle Lohse.

Kyle Lohse (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)My most recent prior post, a tongue-in-cheek shot at the top 10 reasons why Kyle Lohse doesn’t want to make a fourth rehab start, did raise some questions about what the St. Louis Cardinals might do with their rehabbing hurler.

In a return to seriousness, I will lay out as many possible alternatives as I can think of and I know if I forgot any, readers will remind me.

Return to the MLB rotation. The case likely preferred by the vast majority is for Lohse to pitch effectively enough to return to the major league rotation. Barring any other injuries, it would be at the expense of Jeff Suppan. The next step in locking that down would be for Lohse to pitch effectively for Triple-A Memphis in Reno Tuesday night.

Remain on rehab assignment. This is not an indefinite option, as a rehab stint for a pitcher has a maximum window of 30 games. Lohse pitched in his first rehab outing on July 26.

Return to the DL. Of course, if Lohse encounters any physical problems following his unique forearm surgery, he could return to the disabled list and then start another rehab assignment. Rinse and repeat as necessary. To date, there have been no public reports of any lingering injury concerns, I should point out.

Return to MLB as reliever. Another option would be to put Lohse in the major league bullpen and keep starting Suppan as the number five as infrequently as possible. Given Lohse’s salary and status, this would seem to be a low-odds, interim move at best.

Option to the minor leagues. This is another very unlikely possibility. First and foremost, a player with five or more years of service time (Lohse has over eight) is not obligated to report. Given Lohse’s concern about even making a fourth rehab start in the minors reinforces the unrealistic nature of this thought.

Further, if Lohse is asked and doesn’t want to go, he could immediately declare himself a free agent. The rub is that in doing so, he would void his current contract. That would be leaving a lot of moolah on the table, between $26 and $27 million by my rough estimation. I would be pretty confident in calling the chance of any option scenario reaching the light of day as zero.

Release or designate for assignment. The Cardinals are no more likely to release Lohse. They would be obligated to pay his entire remaining salary and receive nothing in return. It would be an extremely short-sighted move, especially given the unusual surgery and unknown recovery history.

Let go via waivers. August is the time of year when organizations routinely pass their players through waivers to see what interest is out there. Lohse is the kind of player who would likely be unclaimed due to his uncertain health status and large contract dollars remaining.

In the unlikely event a club did claim Lohse, the Cardinals could let him go, with the claiming team required to assume his entire remaining contract obligation. They could also try to work out some kind of trade with the claiming organization or revoke the waivers and keep Lohse.

Waiver trade. A very interesting, but again low odds scenario would be to essentially trade Lohse to another club with a high-salaried infielder, say a third baseman. Of course, one element of what makes this unlikely is that the third baseman would have had to previously clear waivers (or been claimed by the Cardinals), not to mention requiring the other team’s needs and money to line up. Then there is Lohse’s full no-trade protection, which would probably have to be bought out.

This could be worked on with the claiming club, but more likely with any one of 29 other teams should Lohse pass through waivers unclaimed. While this might look ok on paper perhaps, in reality…

Even if Lohse cleared waivers, the most probable case would be that nothing external would happen.

Did I miss anything?

Again, the purpose of this exercise was to consider all the possibilities for Kyle Lohse for the remainder of this season. Many of them have little to no chance of happening.

Lohse can take control of his destiny by pitching so well the Cardinals would want nothing more than for him to rejoin their rotation and help lead them into the playoffs.

What actually happens of course remains to be seen.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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