August 01, 2023
The Phillies finally made some noise as the clock on the trade deadline ticked down to its final hours, acquiring veteran right-hander Michael Lorenzen from the Tigers as one more versatile arm for the season's home stretch.
Infield prospect Hao-Yu Lee, who was rated fifth within the Phillies' farm system, will be going back to Detroit in return, and to make room for Lorenzen on the 40-man roster, Josh Harrison was designated for assignment.
Lorenzen, 31, is a nine-year veteran who pitched almost entirely in relief before transitioning into a full-time starter last season with the Angels. This year with the Tigers, he's made 18 starts, earning an All-Star nod with a 3.58 ERA, 83 strikeouts, and 27 walks across what's approaching a career-high 105.2 innings pitched.
Similar to Matt Strahm earlier this season and Noah Syndergaard for the home stretch of last year and the playoff run, Lorenzen is a flexible arm who can pitch either in the back end of the rotation or out of the bullpen, which makes him a solid fit for the Phillies.
He won't solve some of the more underlying issues up at the top of the rotation, but he will give them one more option to work with if Ranger Suárez, Taijuan Walker, or Cristopher Sánchez begin to struggle deeper into the season. At the same time, he can jump into the pen no problem, and buy a bit more time for Seranthony Domínguez and José Alvarado to rest up for the postseason push, plus keep them from getting spread too thin like they eventually did last October – provided the Phillies get there first.
As a starter this year, Lorenzen has pitched through at least the sixth inning in 10 of his 18 appearances, so if he does go into the rotation, which seems likely for the time being, that type of longevity could also prove invaluable when it comes to keeping as many arms as possible fresh over the regular season's final two months.
Lee, who was slashing .283/.372/.401 for High-A Jersey Shore this season, is a 20-year old second baseman on the rise, but Bryson Stott already has the position locked down at the big-league level for the foreseeable future. So with a need for pitching on a team ready to win now, Phillies president Dave Dombrowski was willing to part with a higher-end prospect who, ultimately, was positionally blocked out.
Lorenzen signed a one-year deal with the Tigers back in December and will be a free agent again after this season. So he's a rental for the Phillies' march back to October.
The Phillies did fit one more deal in before the 6 p.m. deadline passed, shipping left-hander Bailey Falter to Pittsburgh for utility infielder Rodolfo Castro, per The Athletic's Jayson Stark.
Castro is a switch hitter who, over parts of three major league seasons, is slashing .226/.299/.396 with a total of 22 home runs and 17 doubles. He can move anywhere throughout the infield, and at 24 years old, will be under team control for the next several years.
The Phillies were after a right-handed bat entering this week, and while Castro technically is one, he's hardly the kind of name most had in mind. Options for someone more accomplished and impactful, however – like a Cody Bellinger, Mark Canha, or Adam Duvall – either grew too limited or too expensive.
Falter, 26, became a reliable fifth starter for the Phillies in the back half of last season, but struggled immensely in this one and had to be optioned down to Triple-A to reset his game. His climb back up now will be done with the club at the other end of the state.
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