UPITER, Fla. -- The Cardinals moved to address their question-filled starting rotation Thursday by reaching agreement with free agent righthander Kyle Lohse on a one-year contract, pending Lohse passing a team physical Friday. Terms were not disclosed.
The move occurs three days after the Cardinals suggested four-fifths of their projected season-ending rotation would be unavailable opening day. Joel Pineiro’s inability to make Wednesday’s scheduled start due to recurring shoulder stiffness served as the catalyst for Thursday’s signing, as general manager John Mozeliak initiated negotiations with Lohse’s agent, Scott Boras.
The Cardinals have virtually ruled out Matt Clement’s availability for opening day, and Mark Mulder and Chris Carpenter continue to rehab from shoulder and elbow surgery, respectively.
Lohse, 29, constructed a 9-12 record and 4.62 ERA while splitting last season between the Cincinnati Reds and the Philadelphia Phillies. Just as importantly, he made 34 starts and worked 192 2/3 innings.
With their rotation in flux, the Cardinals have scheduled Clayton Mortensen for Friday's start in Vero Beach against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Mortensen never has pitched above Class A and was made the 36th overall pick of last June’s amateur draft.
Adam Wainwright and Braden Looper entered Thursday as the only pitchers considered locks for the Redbirds’ Opening Day rotation. A scrum including Anthony Reyes, Brad Thompson, Todd Wellemeyer, Kyle McClellan and Mike Parisi was under consideration.
Lohse’s best seasons came with the Minnesota Twins in 2002-03 when he won 27 games combined. Just as significant, Lohse worked 201 innings in 2003 and 194 in 2004. He has made at least 30 starts in five of the last six seasons.
Lohse could report to the team’s spring training headquarters as early as Friday afternoon.
Originally projected as the free agent market’s second-most attractive pitcher, Lohse languished as Carlos Silva, rated the market’s top pitcher, became the only arm to receive a multi-year deal.
The Cardinals, meanwhile, passed on several low-budget options, including Jon Lieber, Josh Fogg, Sidney Ponson and Bartolo Colon.