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Pirates Free Agent Face-Off: Michael Lorenzen vs. Sean Manaea

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Pittsburgh Pirates, Sean Manaea

This is one in a series of comparing two Pittsburgh Pirates free agent targets this offseason.

News Flash: The Pittsburgh Pirates are looking to upgrade their starting rotation this offseason. It makes sense considering there is only one established starter currently in the rotation in Mitch Keller.

A few starting pitchers have already landed deals this offseason, but there are still plenty of free agent targets remaining for the Pirates to sign.

Two options who could be under consideration for the Pirates are right-handed pitcher Michael Lorenzen and left-hander Sean Manaea. Lorenzen split his 2023 season between the Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Phillies. Manaea was with the San Francisco Giants.

Let’s compare the two.

RHP Michael Lorenzen

  • Age on 2024 opening day: 32
  • 2023 stats: 9-9, 4.18 ERA/4.32 FIP, 153 innings, 138 hits, 47 walks, 111 strikeouts, 29 appearances/25 starts, 105 ERA+
  • Career stats: 40-38, 4.11 ERA, 724 innings, 671 hits, 288 walks, 602 strikeouts, 342 appearances/69 starts, 105 ERA+
  • MLBTR contract prediction: 2 years, $22 million

Lorenzen was used primarily as a starting pitcher during his rookie campaign with the Cincinnati Reds in 2015. After that season, though, the Reds shifted him to a bullpen role where he remained for the rest of his Reds’ tenure.

Prior to the 2022 season, the Los Angeles Angels signed Lorenzen as a free agent and utilized him out of their rotation. In 18 starts in Anaheim, Lorenzen went 8-6 with a 4.24 ERA.

Having shown he can be a capable starter when healthy, the Tigers signed the right-hander to a one-year contract last offseason. Lorenzen rewarded Detroit by earning his first All-Star selection. With the Tigers, he went 5-7 with a 3.58 ERA across 18 starts.

The Tigers shipped Lorenzen to the Phillies at the trade deadline. His time with the Phillies started off with a bang. He threw a no-hitter against the Washington Nationals in his second start with his new team. Shortly after, though, Lorenzen faded down the stretch and was eventually moved to the bullpen.

LHP Sean Manaea

  • Age on 2024 opening day: 32
  • 2023 stats: 7-6, 4.44 ERA/3.90 FIP, 117.2 innings, 104 hits, 42 walks, 128 strikeouts, 37 appearances/10 starts, 95 ERA+
  • Career stats: 65-56, 4.10 ERA/4.05 FIP, 1002.2 innings, 954 hits, 272 walks, 925 strikeouts, 196 appearances/166 starts, 100 ERA+
  • MLBTR contract prediction: 2 years, $22 million

Manaea has a lengthier history as a starting pitcher since that is what he has been for the bulk of his career. Though he only made 10 starts last season, he often followed an opener as a bulk reliever. Manaea ended the year in San Francisco as a traditional starter.

In his eight-year career, Manaea has pitched for the Oakland A’s and the San Diego Padres, along with the Giants. He’s developed a reputation as a durable starter and has made at least 25 appearances in six of his seven seasons (shortened 2020 season excluded).

As a left-hander, Manaea could appeal to the Pirates in that general manager Ben Cherington has signed a left-handed starter in each of the last three offseasons.

Parting Thoughts

Both pitchers are comparable for a variety of factors, such as age, contract prediction and where they would be inserted into the Pirates’ rotation. Lorenzen is more of a pitch-to-contact arm whereas Manaea has relied more on his stuff and generating whiffs over the previous few seasons.

Lorenzen or Manaea would give the Pirates a much needed boost to their rotation behind Keller. Both players are coming off of steady, albeit unspectacular seasons. Equally as important, both players are affordable, even by the Pirates’ standards.

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