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Kyle Lohse rumors: St. Louis Cardinals ace a free agent gamble after declining qualifying offer

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Kyle Lohse turned down the St. Louis Cardinals' qualifying offer, as expected, ending a decidedly unexpected two-year term as their ace. What's he due in free agency?

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The St. Louis Cardinals expected Kyle Lohse to become a free agent on Friday, turning down their perfunctory qualifying offer and earning them a supplemental-round draft pick. They expected that exactly as much as they didn't expect Lohse, a disaster in the first two years of his deal, to turn in two credible seasons as their de facto ace on his way out. What does his unexpected thirtysomething peak mean for his second big free agency payday in 2013?

It means that if there's really anybody out there, in a position of MLB power, who puts any stock by win-loss totals, he'll be even richer. Lohse was crucial for the Cardinals in 2011 and 2012, throwing nearly 400 innings with an ERA of 3.11 and a strikeout-to-walk ratio over three, but his W-L total over those years (30-11) doesn't suggest a control-minded veteran so much as strike-years Greg Maddux.

Unhappily for him, I don't think anybody but baseball-card-collectors and sportswriters will care about his league-leading .842 winning percentage last year. But he'll still get paid. In an offseason where Anibal Sanchez expects $90 million, a short-term deal for maybe-too-much a year for a dependable starter with a fastball that doesn't top 90 on purpose doesn't sound like such a bad thing, anymore.