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With a little over a week before Opening Day, the Brewers signed veteran righty Kyle Lohse to a three-year, $33 million deal.

It’s amazing how a guy who finished last year 16-3 with a 2.86 ERA in a career-high 211 innings wasn’t immediately snatched up early in the offseason by a contender.
Kyle Lohse
Photo by Barbara Moore, used under creative commons license.

Add in that he’s combined to win 30 games the past two seasons and has made at least 30 starts each year, and it was very strange that no team locked him up earlier.

But how surprising is it actually?

Under the terms of the new MLB collective bargaining agreement, a free agent receiving a qualifying offer from his previous team is free to sign with any team, but that team must give up its highest draft pick as compensation.

This year’s qualifying offer was $13.3 million for one year, and the Cardinals offered Lohse that deal in November. But naturally, as a Scott Boras client, Lohse declined the offer and held out for a multiyear deal rather than accept the one-year pact.

At age 34, Lohse isn’t exactly the type of pitcher that teams were willing to take a gamble on to lose a first round draft pick. Sure, the past two years have gone well for him, but he was a combined eight games under .500 the previous two years and dealt with injuries.

The Brewers seemed set with giving their young arms -- Mark Rogers, Wily Peralta and Mike Fiers -- a chance behind ace Yovani Gallardo in the starting rotation. But after the struggles those three have endured this spring, Milwaukee instead surrendered the No. 17 overall draft pick to sign Lohse.

After his client signed, Boras was not afraid to voice his opinion about the draft pick compensation for teams offering free agents qualifying offers. He said he believes Lohse lost money since he was tied to a team losing a pick.

“When you have a system that does not reward performance, you know we have something corrupt in the major league process,” Boras told “You cannot have that in the major league system, because it’s not rewarding performance.”

For example, Boras pointed out that Ryan Dempster -- who is coming off a much less productive year than Lohse -- will actually receive more than $2 million per year more than Lohse over the next two years. Dempster was not given a qualifying offer and thus was not tied to draft pick compensation.

Boras also pointed out that acquiring teams have to give up the signing-bonus allocation associated with their draft pick. Here is where Boras brings up an interesting point.

Basically, the team signing the free agent who received a qualifying offer -- like the Brewers with Lohse -- loses that bonus money altogether, since the new collective bargaining agreement also states that these funds cannot be applied to later draft rounds.

If a team loses these funds, it creates a scenario in which a team must make a tough decision on whether to improve the big league roster by risking its future. Boras said he believes that in this case, non-contending teams are rewarded for losing, since they receive the most draft money.

Boras called the entire system “corrupt.” And when a player of Lohse’s caliber signs a week before the start of the season given his recent track record, Boras may be on to something.