The Los Angeles Angels made it known that they would be in the market for all types of pitching this offseason. Yes, their goal was to land two frontline starters, but depth is also important for a team that had to use 40 pitchers and 17 starters in 2021.
On a Sunday that saw Kevin Gausman, Jon Gray, and potentially Max Scherzer all sign long-term deals in other places, the Angels made a much more under the radar move. They reportedly agreed to terms on a one-year, $7 million deal with Cincinnati Reds starter/reliever Michael Lorenzen.
Lorenzen, 29, is a Southern California native through and through. He was born and raised in Anaheim, then attended Fullerton Union High School and Cal State Fullerton. Perhaps a return to his home can spark a new level of confidence for the veteran pitcher.
This is the third pitcher that the Angels have brought in this offseason, and while Lorenzen hasn’t been a starter since 2015, that is how the Halos are reportedly planning on using him, according to Robert Murray of FanSided:
Free-agent pitcher Michael Lorenzen and the Los Angeles Angels are in agreement on a one-year deal worth around $7 million, pending physical, according to sources familiar with the situation. Lorenzen is going to be in the Angels’ rotation.
— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) November 29, 2021
Lorenzen is coming off of a career-worst 2021 season. A shoulder injury limited him to just 29 innings, and in that time, he had a 5.59 ERA, a 1.379 WHIP, and only 21 strikeouts compared to 14 walks out of the bullpen.
However, he is not that far removed from the 2019 season where he had a 2.92 ERA in 83.1 innings of work. His K-to-BB ratio was over double his 2021 numbers in that season. Lorenzen on a one-year, $7 million deal represent the type of low-risk, high-reward signings that the Angels have loved throughout the years.
Because of that, it’s perfectly reasonable why fans might criticize the move, as these types of contracts have always gone poorly. But there is legitimate reason to believe this time might be different.
The Angels are planning to use him as a starter, but they could quickly move him to the bullpen if he struggles. They also are planning to deploy a six-man rotation, and they currently only have four starters with Noah Syndergaard, Shohei Ohtani, Patrick Sandoval, and Jose Suarez.
Even if they agreed to terms with one of the top pitchers on the market, they would still need a sixth starter. Perhaps Lorenzen can be that guy if he returns to 2019 form as opposed to the injury-riddled version we saw with the Reds in 2021.
Another minor benefit is that Lorenzen is one of the best hitting pitchers in the league outside of his new teammate, Ohtani. In 147 career plate appearances, Lorenzen is batting .233 with a .710 OPS and has hit seven home runs. This gives the Angels a legitimate pinch-hitting option out of the bullpen on days where Ohtani starts on the mound.
It would be shocking if the Angels didn’t remain in the market for one of the top starters left on the market after Sunday’s frenzy. The Lorenzen deal is not one to exclude the team from making other moves.
Scherzer leaning Mets
Sunday was a mad dash of a day for MLB executives. And in the most shocking move of all, Scherzer may be headed on his way to the New York Mets. On Sunday morning, it felt as though the L.A. Dodgers and the Angels were the favorites to land Scherzer.
But on Sunday night, rumors began circulating that the Mets were throwing every dollar they possibly could at Scherzer, and they may have found a number high enough to sway him back to the East Coast. Reports are that the Mets have offered him a deal averaging at $42 million per year for 3-4 years.
Nothing has been made official yet, but it’s possible that the Dodgers and Angels have lost Scherzer to the Mets.