This is the face of the White Sox getting better draft picks. (Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports)
Kyle Lohse has had a disappointing offseason up until today. Given the new CBA, and given that Lohse turned down the qualifying offer made by the Cardinals, he was in that no-man’s land that claimed so much of Michael Bourn’s asking price. The only teams that would want to sign an old, fragile, #3 or so starter were teams that figured they will compete in 2013. The problem is, most of those teams draft toward the back of the first round, meaning that their picks aren’t protected, so to sign Kyle Lohse they would have to give up their first round draft pick.
And so Lohse, whom “experts” were projecting to sign a 5-year $75 million deal or something to that effect at the beginning of the offseason, sat and twiddled his thumbs as Opening Day approached. Lohse’ leverage and asking price plummeted. Today, however, the word seems to be that Lohse has signed a 3-year deal with Milwaukee worth $33 million.
At this point you’re probably sitting here thinking, “Hey, Nick – the Brewers play in the NL Central now. What does this have to do with my favorite team, the White Sox?” Well, in that case you have stumbled right into my trap. The Brewers had the 17th overall pick in the coming draft, and as such, it was unprotected. By signing Lohse, under the new CBA, that pick simply vanishes and every team drafting behind 17 moves up. The Chicago White Sox had possessed the 18th pick, and thus move up one slot. Not a huge deal, but nice to find out that one more player will be on the board when they go to draft. Given the improved quality of picks the White Sox have been finding in the teens lately (Chris Sale, Courtney Hawkins), every little bit helps.
An indirect benefit of this is that now the Indians can’t sign Lohse. The Indians’ first round pick would be protected, so if Lohse’s value had cratered far enough perhaps the Indians would open their wallet one more time this offseason. The only reason I think the White Sox are probably better than the Indians for 2013 at this point is that their rotation is so much better. Lohse is no ace, but he would be a big improvement in the area of Cleveland’s biggest weakness.