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Grading Michael Lorenzen trade for Phillies, Tigers

We go over who won the deal for Michael Lorenzen prior to the MLB trade deadline on Tuesday.

Michael Lorenzen of the Detroit Tigers pitches against the Los Angeles Angels during the second inning of game one of a doubleheader at Comerica Park on July 27, 2023 in Detroit, Michigan. Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

With less than two hours to go before the 2023 trade deadline, the starting pitching market remains red hot. We’ve already seen Justin Verlander get dealt today, and now the Philadelphia Phillies have reached a deal to acquire right-hander Michael Lorenzen from the Detroit Tigers. Hao-Yu Lee, a promising young infielder currently in High-A, is headed to Detroit.

Many observers had the Phillies in on relievers ahead of the deadline, but instead they’ve opted for Lorenzen, who was an obvious trade candidate given his expiring contract and very solid 3.58 ERA over 18 starts this season. He gives Philly more rotation depth along with lefty Cristopher Sanchez, while Lee gives the Tigers the sort of potential plus hitter on the infield that they’ve sorely lacked in recent years. So: Who came out ahead here? What does this deal mean for each team? Let’s break it all down.

Michael Lorenzen trade grades

Phillies: B-

Given how well Sanchez has pitched as the team’s fifth starter of late — and how sketchy the back of the bullpen looks with Seranthony Dominguez coming back from injury and Jose Alvarado still on the IL — I’m a bit surprised that this is the pitcher GM Dave Dombrowski opted to shoot for, although maybe he has another move left up his sleeve.

You can see the thought process, though: Sanchez is young and relatively untested, you can never have too much rotation depth, and Lorenzen does have significant relief experience after coming out of the bullpen for most of the first few years of his career with Cincinnati Reds. Plus, long relief options become even more valuable come October, and Lorenzen would seem to be a great fit there, piggybacking with an opener or going three or four innings after a starter struggles.

Lee has a great feel for hitting, but it’s yet to be determined how much power he’ll be able to tap into. Defensively, he’s pretty much limited to second base, a position that doesn’t figure to be coming open at the Major League level with Bryson Stott around. This deal will look more disappointing if Dombrowski doesn’t land another high-leverage arm, but all in all, it’s a decent add.

Tigers: B

For the Tigers, on the other hand, the logic is much more clear-cut: Spencer Torkelson aside, Detroit’s infield has been abysmal at the plate this season, and Lee gives them a potential plus bat to plug in alongside top third-base prospect Colt Keith. Signed out of Taiwan as part of the 2021 international free agent class, Lee did nothing but hit over his first year-plus in the State, first in a nine-game cameo in rookie ball and then hitting .284/.386/.438 with nine homers and 14 steals across two levels last year. At 5’9, he’s not particularly big, and he’s not going to break any exit velocity records, but he has a preternatural feel for getting the bat to the ball and making solid contact. It’s not hard to see him developing into a big-league regular a couple of years down the line, and that’s nice work for Detroit in return for a rental.