Lohse Scratched; Prep for a New Contract

The St. Louis Cardinals are closing in on a multi-year contract that would keep pitcher Kyle Lohse in a Cardinals uniform for several more additional seasons. He was scratched from his Sunday start for precautionary reasons in preparation for a physical. A Monday afternoon press conference has been scheduled.

As has been discussed on our subscriber's only message board for the last few days, the St. Louis Cardinals and free-agent eligible pitcher Kyle Lohse seem to be zeroing in on a contract extension that may keep the 29-year-old right-hander with the club through as long as 2011 or perhaps 2012.

This is unconfirmed by team officials at this time, but a source close to the negotiations believes that the fundamentals of the deal between the Cardinals and Lohse's agent, Scott Boras, have been worked out. As is customary before a contract such as this is signed, Lohse will undergo a physical examination to confirm his good health.

A press conference to announce the signing could come as early as Monday. One reason for a sense of urgency could be that Major League Baseball frowns on club announcements during the post-season, which begins on Wednesday.

As a precautionary measure, the Cardinals have scratched Lohse from his final start of the season, scheduled on Sunday. Instead, the club will send out right-hander Brad Thompson. On his Sunday morning radio show, La Russa confirmed the change and hinted that some good news may be coming soon.

Lohse joined the Cardinals on a one-year deal in mid-March after he and Boras had earlier turned down a more valuable multi-year offer to remain with Philadelphia. The market for pitching had seemed to pass Lohse by as he remained a free agent far longer than most with his talent.

The Phillies had acquired the California native at the 2007 trade deadline. He had joined the Cincinnati Reds at the same time the year before. Lohse broke in with the Minnesota Twins in 2001 at the age of 22 and pitched for them until being dealt to the Reds in mid-season 2006. He was originally taken by the Chicago Cubs in the 29th round of the 1996 draft and was sent to Minnesota as part of a deal for closer Rick Aguilera in May, 1999.

Overall, Lohse has a 78-80 career record with a 4.78 ERA in 251 games over eight seasons. For the 2008 Cardinals, the righty delivered 15 wins against only six losses in 200 innings and 33 starts. The innings pitched is a team high and the number of starts tied for tops with Braden Looper, another prospective free agent. Lohse's 3.78 ERA is not only his career best, it is the first time as a major leaguer he came in under four earned runs per nine innings pitched.

Update: The Cardinals have scheduled a press conference at 4:30 P.M. Central time on Monday for the announcement. While the Post-Dispatch suggests four years, $48 million, we think it will be closer to $40 million plus incentives.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net.

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