The Orioles are among the teams eyeing Tigers’ starter Michael Lorenzen, reports Jon Morosi of MLB.com (Twitter link). They join the Astros and Rays as clubs reportedly in the mix for the Detroit righty.
Just as Lorenzen is a sensible target for Houston and Tampa Bay, the fit for Baltimore is straightforward. Lorenzen seems highly likely to move before next Tuesday’s deadline. He’s an impending free agent on a Detroit club that fell 11 games below .500 upon getting swept in a doubleheader against the Angels today.
The first-time All-Star is having arguably the best season of his career. It’s his second straight season as a full-time starter. After posting league average numbers in 18 starts for the Angels last year, the 31-year-old has been a mid-rotation caliber arm this season. Even following a five-inning, three-run performance against the Halos this afternoon, he carries a 3.58 ERA across 105 2/3 frames.
Lorenzen’s underlying marks aren’t quite that strong, largely because he’s not missing a ton of bats. His 19.9% strikeout rate is a couple points below league average, while his 42.5% grounder percentage is right around par. The nine-year MLB veteran has walked only 6.5% of opponents, though, a notable improvement on last year’s 10.7% figure. He’s mixing five pitches with some amount of regularity and hasn’t had any platoon concerns.
That production makes him a logical target for win-now teams seeking rotation help. The Orioles certainly qualify. Baltimore has the best record in the American League at 62-40. They’re up a game and a half (three in the loss column) on Tampa Bay for the AL East lead. The rebuild is over, and while there’s still some question about how aggressively the O’s will push chips in, they could make a competitive offer for Lorenzen without subtracting from the top of the farm system.
Detroit signed Lorenzen to an $8.5MM free agent deal. Just over $3MM of that salary is yet to be paid out. Lorenzen has already locked in an extra $250K in incentives by passing the 100-inning mark and would earn a matching amount at 125, 150, 175, 195 and 205 frames.
That’s a modest price to pay for a mid-rotation arm who’d likely step into the projected playoff rotation. Baltimore’s starting staff is its relative weak point. The O’s have an excellent offense and elite relief corps but rank 17th in MLB with a 4.52 rotation ERA.
Kyle Bradish and Tyler Wells each have a sub-4.00 mark with slightly above-average strikeout/walk profiles. Kyle Gibson has offered his typically steady back-of-the-rotation innings. Dean Kremer has been a bit homer-prone en route to a fine but unexciting 4.59 ERA in 21 starts. Offseason trade pickup Cole Irvin has struggled and bounced in and out of the rotation, while top prospect Grayson Rodriguez has an ERA pushing 7.00 through his first 12 big league outings.