Spring Training has begun, and Kyle Lohse is still looking for a team. But according to agent Scott Boras, the right-hander is drawing more interest as the days go by.
Boras discussed the status of Lohse, as well as relievers Jose Valverde and Francisco Rodriguez, with MLB.com's Mark Sheldon while stopping by the Reds' camp in Goodyear, Ariz., to speak with the Korean media about Cincinnati outfielder Shin Soo-Choo, another Boras client.
Despite the Draft-pick compensation issues that affected the market for many top-tier free agents this winter, Boras succeeded in finding big contracts for many of his high-profile clients, including Nationals closer Rafael Soriano and Indians center fielder Michael Bourn. But Lohse, one of the top starters on this year's free-agent market, remains unsigned.
"Like most free agents with that kind of ability, I think you get all kinds of calls. Frankly the calls increase during Spring Training rather than decrease because the need level of each club is more evident," Boras said. "These are ownership decisions at this point. The talent is there.
"[Lohse is] a good player and has been through this a couple of times. This was kind of anticipated with his Draft compensation dynamic. Because he's the type of player that will go to an instantly competitive team, those teams knowing they'd have to give away a Draft pick and Draft money, we understood it would probably have to be something that there was definitely a feeling it was necessary to have him on the team to be competitive to win. This has been kind of a new dynamic in baseball."
There has been some speculation that a return to St. Louis would make sense for Lohse now that starter Chris Carpenter is unlikely to pitch this year. But Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak has said his club is happy with its pitching staff and isn't looking to add another starter.
"Well, any time a team loses both a veteran pitcher and a leader ... Kyle really was the Cardinals' No. 1 pitcher the last two years if you look at what he's done," Boras said. "He was a very important part of their team, but you would have to ask 'Mo' whether or not the need arises to the level that he and Bill DeWitt determine is appropriate."
As for Valverde and Rodriguez, Boras said he's received calls about both within "the last few days." Valverde, the former Tigers closer who lost that job at the end of last season, remains unsigned despite a fairly impressive resume that includes 110 saves and a 3.00 ERA over the last three years.
Valverde, who will turn 35 in March, recorded 49 saves in 49 opportunities with a 2.24 ERA over 75 appearances in 2011. But he often struggled in 2012, saving 35 games with a 3.78 ERA in 71 appearances. Valverde looked like a completely different pitcher in the postseason, giving up nine earned runs and recording only eight outs -- a performance that Boras attributed to his heavy workload each of the past two seasons.
"You go back and look at closer history and why a guy got a little fatigued the last month of a season, you don't find many closers that had back-to-back 70 appearance seasons," Boras said. "When they do, even Mariano Rivera, when he had a 70-appearance season, he went into the postseason in 2004 and blew three saves.
"[Valverde] had a phenomenal year in '11, and by closers' standards, he's a very young guy. The thing about closers is there is only one on every team. So a team has to have a closer need. It's not like adding a relief pitcher where you have multiple options for them."
Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. MLB.com reporter Mark Sheldon contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less