Cincinnati Reds: Michael Lorenzen’s $4.4-million salary is a bargain

CINCINNATI, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 04: Michael Lorenzen #21 of the Cincinnati Reds throws a pitch. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 04: Michael Lorenzen #21 of the Cincinnati Reds throws a pitch. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

According to FanSided’s Robert Murray, the Cincinnati Reds and right-handed pitcher Michael Lorenzen agreed to a one-year on Friday, avoiding arbitration. No matter how you slice it, this is a bargain for the Reds.

Lorenzen, who is entering the final year of team control, was projected by MLB Trade Rumors to take home between $3.8M-$4.4M in 2021. This year’s predictions were a bit difficult to come by since the coronavirus pandemic caused the 2020 season to be shortened to just 60 games.

Last season, Lorenzen settled for $3.725M, but because of the pandemic-shortened season, the right-hander received a prorated salary for last year’s efforts. With Trevor Bauer unlikely to return and Anthony DeSclafani off to San Francisco, Michael Lorenzen may be in line to start for the Cincinnati Reds in 2021.

The Reds are getting a bargain if Michael Lorenzen is the team’s No. 5 starter.

Provided the Reds do not trade any of their starters heading into the season, it would appear that four of the five starting spots are locked up. Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray, both of whom have been rumored to be on the trade block, are interchangeable atop the Cincinnati rotation.

Tyler Mahle, who signed a one-year deal worth $2.2M yesterday, will likely be the team’s No. 3 starting pitcher. Wade Miley, who Cincinnati signed to a two-year contract prior to last season, is hopeful to put a horrendous and injury-riddled 2020 behind him.

That leaves Michael Lorenzen, who has his sights set on being a starter in 2021, in a battle with Tejay Antone, José De León, Brandon Bailey, and Jeff Hoffman for the final spot in the Cincinnati Reds rotation.

Lorenzen has been down this road before. The 29-year-old has started 26 games during his career with varying degrees of success. During Lorenzen’s rookie season in 2015, the the hulking right-hander started 21 of 27 games, going 4-9 with a 5.40 ERA.

Michael Lorenzen was then moved to the bullpen and since then has started three games in 2018 (1-1, 2.63 ERA) and two games last season (1-0, 2.79 ERA). While it’s a small sample size, those numbers are good enough to make me think Mikey Biceps is ready to be a full-time starter once again.

Michael Lorenzen gives the Reds versatility as well.

There’s also the matter of Michael Lorenzen’s versatility. We’ve seen the Reds use some gimmicky ideas in order to get Lorenzen’s bat into game on occasion. In 2019, while primarily appearing out of the bullpen, Lorenzen found his way into the outfield. The California native, who played as an outfielder in college, played 89 innings in the outfield during the 2019 season.

Lorenzen has also been known to crank some homers out of Great American Ball Park every once in awhile. He has seven career home runs and 24 RBIs. With the universal DH likely absent from the 2021 season, having Lorenzen’s bat in the lineup every fifth day wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Also, with Lorenzen inserted into the starting rotation, Cincinnati skipper David Bell could utilize the speedster on the base paths as a pinch runner when the situation called for it. If Lorenzen was used exclusively as a reliever, the Reds manager would have a more difficult time finding a spot for Lorenzen in certain situations.

The Cincinnati Reds are certainly not going to hand the starting job to Michael Lorenzen, but given what Nick Krall and the front office are looking for in 2021, the right-hander fits the mold. The $4.4M is a modest salary for a No. 5 starter, especially considering that Wade Miley is taking home $7M during the upcoming season.

Having Lorenzen as the team’s No. 5 starter also allows the Reds front office some roster flexibility when it comes to their bullpen. Tejay Antone and Brandon Bailey both have minor league options remaining, allowing Cincinnati the ability to option those right-handers down to Triple-A in order to bring up a fresh bullpen arm.

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I wouldn’t put it past the Cincinnati Reds and Michael Lorenzen to look to hammer out a longterm contract extension prior to the start of the 2021 season. It’s obvious that the Reds like Lorenzen’s versatility, and whether he’s in the rotation or coming out of the bullpen, Mikey Biceps is an important part of the Reds organization moving forward.