Michael Lorenzen, Relief pitcher
This may be the most interesting contract situation among the players who signed a one-year deal this past week. Michael Lorenzen is coming off a steady 2018 campaign and will likely be relied upon heavily, in some capacity, next season. The muscular right-hander is slated to make $1.95M next season, but will the Reds look to lock him up beyond just 2019?
I find it highly unlikely that the Reds and Lorenzen reach a long-term extension before the season begins, and it has nothing to do with the Reds desire to keep Lorenzen. Nor does it revolve around Lorenzen’s desire to stay in Cincinnati, but rather what Lorenzen’s role will be going forward. Is he a relief pitcher or a starter?
We’ll likely get the answer to that question fairly soon, and all signs point to Lorenzen returning to the bullpen after starting 3 games to close the 2018 season. Lorenzen made 42 relief appearances last season and pitched a total of 81 innings.
His offensive capabilities make Lorenzen an intriguing player to plug into a starting role, but with Alex Wood, Anthony DeSclafani, Luis Castillo, and Tanner Roark essentially set as four of the five starters, there’s only one spot left in the 2019 Reds’ rotation. Tyler Mahle would appear to have the inside track right now and there’s still the possibility that Cincinnati could add another starter this offseason.
With the uncertainty surrounding Michael Lorenzen’s role next season, a long-term contract seems unlikely, however, it’s not inconceivable. If internal discussions have been had with Lorenzen, his newly appointed representation, and the Reds management, it’s quite possible that the two sides could come to an agreement before there season.
Lorenzen is not a free agent until after the 2021 season, so he and the Reds have a few more years before it becomes a priority for the team to reach a long-term contract with their talented right-hander.