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Lohse, Brewers complete $33 million, 3-year deal

Lohse, Brewers complete $33 million, 3-year deal

March 25th, 2013 in News

PHOENIX (AP) - Kyle Lohse waited all winter and finally found a home with Milwaukee.

Lohse and the Brewers completed a three-year contract worth $33 million Monday, a big boost to their suspect rotation exactly a week before the season opener at home against Colorado.

"I'm really happy to be able to come over," Lohse said during a news conference at Milwaukee's spring training facility. "With this offense and the ability of their pitching staff, it looks like a good fit. I know everybody in the division."

Lohse enjoyed his best season in the majors last year, going 16-3 with a 2.86 ERA and helping the St. Louis Cardinals earn an NL wild-card spot.

When he hit the free-agent market, however, it took nearly the entire offseason for the 34-year-old right-hander to find a new team. He turned down a $13.3 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals in November, so under baseball's new labor agreement most major-league clubs had to be willing to forfeit a first-round draft pick if they wanted to sign him.

Apparently, that made potential suitors pretty hesitant.

"We have a system in place here that's affecting the major leagues. It's affecting major league players, it's affecting development and preventing a lot of people from doing their jobs effectively, particularly organizations like this who rely on development," said Lohse's agent, Scott Boras.

"They should be able to sign free agents if they wish and also develop as they wish, and I think it's best for baseball that we really re-examine this."

But the Brewers were in need of a reliable starter and general manager Bob Melvin said the move "makes us a better club than we were yesterday."

Lohse joins All-Star right-hander Yovani Gallardo at the top of the rotation, but the rest of the group is mostly unproven: Marco Estrada, Mike Fiers, Chris Narveson and Wily Peralta.

"Kyle is coming off two very good years and his experience and competitiveness will be welcomed by the club," Melvin said.

Milwaukee gave up the 17th overall pick in this year's amateur draft to land Lohse, who made 33 starts last year for the Cardinals - one of Milwaukee's division rivals in the NL Central. He finished seventh in Cy Young Award voting, was first in the league in winning percentage (.842) and held opponents to a career-best .239 batting average.

Lohse is 118-109 with a 4.45 ERA in 12 seasons with Minnesota, Cincinnati, Philadelphia and St. Louis. He went 55-35 in five seasons with the Cardinals.

His debut for Milwaukee could be delayed until mid-April as he gets his arm in game shape. The Brewers said Lohse would start the regular season on the active roster.

"I always knew something would work out," said Lohse, expected to pitch Thursday against Colorado in a Cactus League game. "I didn't know it was going to be this late. I'm glad this worked out because it's a great situation and a great team for me to be on. If you had to go through what I went through to get here, I think it was worth it."

Lohse spent this spring working out with a couple of local colleges in Arizona: Scottsdale Community College and Grand Canyon University. Meanwhile, Boras told him to be patient.

"He's been the best pitcher in the National League Central the past two years," said Boras, who spoke after Lohse at the news conference.

Lohse recovered from an injury-plagued 2010 season, when he went 4-8 with a 6.55 ERA in 18 games, to finish 14-8 with a 3.39 ERA in 2011.

He will wear No. 26 with the Brewers.