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Latest On Michael Lorenzen’s Market

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With Opening Day less than two weeks off, Michael Lorenzen stands as arguably the #3 starting pitcher on the free agent market. The White Sox and Yankees have reportedly shown recent interest in the 32-year-old righty, but he evidently has yet to find a deal to his liking.

Jon Heyman of the New York Post reports that Lorenzen has declined contract offers in the $5-7MM range. It’s not clear which teams made those proposals or how recently Lorenzen’s camp passed. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported last week that the 6’3″ hurler had been holding out for a two-year pact.

It’s therefore not surprising that Lorenzen turned down what were presumably one-year offers at fairly modest salaries. He’s coming off his first All-Star nod and tallied a career-high 153 innings between the Tigers and Phillies last season. He looked on his way to a strong multi-year pact by the middle of August. After no-hitting the Nationals on August 9, he carried a 3.23 ERA in 20 starts. Lorenzen was never likely to maintain that kind of run prevention unless he improved upon a modest 19.4% strikeout rate, but few would have anticipated how badly his final six weeks would go.

Lorenzen allowed 30 runs (27 earned) in his final 30 1/3 frames. His already modest strikeout percentage dropped another seven points, while his previously strong walk rate jumped to 10.3%. The Phillies moved him to relief at the end of the regular season and didn’t lean heavily on him during the playoffs. That poor finish has seemingly led to a disconnect between how teams project Lorenzen and the kind of contract he expected to command heading into the winter.

Despite the rough conclusion, Lorenzen’s season ERA sat at a respectable 4.18 in 29 outings. His camp presumably viewed recent two-year guarantees inked by the likes of Ross Stripling ($25MM), Drew Smyly ($19MM), Jordan Lyles ($17MM) and KBO returnee Erick Fedde ($15MM) as comparison points. Innings eaters Kyle Gibson ($13MM) and Lance Lynn ($11MM) signed one-year pacts early this offseason that pushed past eight figures.

The offers which Lorenzen declined value him below those other pitchers. As shown on MLBTR’s Contract Tracker, five starting pitchers have signed one-year guarantees between $3MM and $9MM this offseason. Each of Wade MileyAlex WoodMartín PérezJames Paxton and Jakob Junis landed in the $7MM – $8.5MM range.

Lorenzen himself has fallen in that category in each of his previous two free agent trips. He signed for $6.75MM with the Angels over the 2021-22 offseason. Last year, he inked an $8.5MM deal with the Tigers. Lorenzen has sought to move past that tier on the heels of a stronger platform season than the ones that preceded his last two free agent stints. It’s not known if that might’ve been achievable earlier in the offseason, but it seems he’s facing a tight market as many teams are at or near the payroll with which they’re willing to open the season.

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