Lorenzen, Halos agree to 1-year contract

RHP could provide boost for rotation -- and off the bench

December 2nd, 2021

ANAHEIM -- The Angels made another addition to their pitching staff, agreeing to terms with right-hander Michael Lorenzen on a one-year deal for $6.75 million, the club announced Tuesday.

The 29-year-old has experience as both a starting pitcher and a reliever, posting a 4.07 ERA across 473 1/3 innings over seven seasons with the Reds, but was signed with the intention of utilizing him as a starting pitcher. He's also been one of the game's better hitting pitchers, batting .233/.282/.429 with seven homers and 24 RBIs in 133 at-bats. It's also a homecoming for Lorenzen, who was born in Anaheim and played collegiately at Cal State Fullerton.

“It's just a lot of intrigue there,” Angels general manager Perry Minasian said Wednesday. “Obviously, he's from the area and he wanted to be here. I’ve said it a lot this offseason, we want players that want to be here and want to be part of this thing.” 

Lorenzen pitched exclusively in relief last season, posting a 5.59 ERA with 21 strikeouts in 29 innings. He competed for a spot in the rotation during Spring Training but suffered a shoulder strain that kept him out of action until mid-July. Lorenzen has pitched mostly in relief since his rookie season, as he made 21 starts in 2015 but has made just five since.

He has a career 4.95 ERA in 26 starts, compared to a 3.74 ERA in 269 relief appearances. He also hasn't topped 100 innings in a season since throwing 113 1/3 frames in 2015, averaging roughly 82 innings per season from 2017-19 before throwing 33 2/3 innings in the shortened 2020 season and 29 last year.

Lorenzen is expected to be part of the rotation, as the Angels will have six starters in 2022 to accommodate two-way star Shohei Ohtani. The club also signed right-hander Noah Syndergaard to a one-year deal worth $21 million and have internal options such as Patrick Sandoval, José Suarez, Griffin Canning, Jaime Barría and Reid Detmers.

"I've always admired the power arm, the stuff, the pitch mix,” Minasian said. “We feel like a transition to a starter, which is what he's been dying to do, was warranted. We do think there's some things there from a pitch-mix standpoint, delivery standpoint, that we can enhance. Obviously, there's risk that you're taking them out of their role, but I think we've in the past we've seen players transition and really be successful."

But even if Lorenzen isn’t a full-time member of the rotation, he brings versatility and adds to the club’s pitching depth. The Angels signed veteran lefty reliever Aaron Loup to a two-year deal and re-signed closer Raisel Iglesias, who was a teammate of Lorenzen’s in Cincinnati from 2015-2020.

But one interesting wrinkle is that Lorenzen could be utilized as a pinch-hitter when needed, especially in games when Ohtani starts on the mound and bats for himself. The Angels lose the designated hitter when Ohtani leaves the game, and Lorenzen gives the Angels another bat off the bench. Lorenzen has shown power as a pinch-hitter, posting an .827 OPS with three homers and seven RBIs in 26 career pinch-hit appearances. He's also appeared in the outfield 34 times in his career, totaling 96 innings. 

"He can do a lot of things on a baseball field,” Minasian said. “He can play the outfield. He can swing a bat. We have a really creative manager that's not afraid to experiment to a certain extent. I think that combination is good and the more flexibility you have on your roster, the better off you are. But at the end of the day, it's about his pitching and what we feel like can bring to the rotation."