With Kyle Lohse rumors floating multi-year, $40 million-and-up contracts in a free agent market overheated by embiggened cable deals, the St. Louis Cardinals look set to take advantage of the new collective bargaining agreement features abolishing the old Type A and Type B arbitration rules. By making a $13.3 million qualifying offer to Lohse, who went 16-3 with an ERA of 2.86 in 2012, they'll receive a supplemental draft pick in 2013.
The new rules are designed to make the qualifying offer more of a risk than offering arbitration used to be; some players who'll be eligible for it could well accept, putting their team $13 million in the hole on a player they don't really want. But few around baseball expect Lohse to accept the contract after his last-best-chance for a multiyear deal, and the Cardinals are already making noises about moving on.
Even if he were likely to accept, the Cardinals aren't taking on much of a risk; a crowded rotation in November rarely remains that way all the way into March, especially when Chris Carpenter and Jaime Garcia are sitting near the top of it. Joe Kelly pushing the Cardinals' worst reliever off the roster probably isn't worth $13 million, but it's not worthless, either.