ST. LOUIS -- The speculation regarding Kyle Lohse's future began almost immediately after the Tuesday announcement of Jake Westbrook's contract extension had been digested.
Westbrook's return to the rotation in 2013 likely signals Lohse's impending departure, as the Cardinals' starting-pitching depth appears sufficient enough to place offseason priorities elsewhere. Lohse is set to become a free agent at the end of the season, and the timing couldn't be better for the 33-year-old right-hander.
At 13-2 with a 2.61 ERA, Lohse is in the midst of a career year.
He told MLB.com earlier this month that he would welcome a chance to return to St. Louis, but that he also understood the strong possibility that he'd end up elsewhere. And on Wednesday, following the Cardinals' 4-2 win over the Astros, Lohse opted not speculate on how his chances of returning have changed since Westbrook's signing.
"I'm excited for him," Lohse said. "I know he's excited to stay here. I'm happy for him and his family. I'm sure it does affect me on the business side of it, but the personal side is all I really want to talk about."
The Cardinals have not had any contract discussions with Lohse or his agent, Scott Boras, this season. Manager Mike Matheny also said that he and Lohse have not discussed the pitcher's future.
"We haven't had many of those conversations, but I know every guy is concerned about their future and how things look for them, especially the ones who are heading into free agency," Matheny said. "Those are conversations they sometimes want to have, and other times it's just a distraction and they just want to play the game. Usually, when a guy is just keeping to himself, he wants to just finish a season ... and let that stuff take care of itself."