Astros’ next move should be obvious after losing out on Blake Snell

The Astros still need to improve their starting rotation.
Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Michael Lorenzen
Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Michael Lorenzen / Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Astros made an attempt last week to sign Blake Snell. There'd been whispers since last year's trade deadline that the 'Stros had interest in the reigning NL Cy Young Award-winner. Snell was seeking a mega-deal this winter that never materialized, and after the Astros passed, the left-hander signed with the San Francisco Giants.

Snell's contract demands were deemed too steep for the Astros. Snell signed a two-year, $62 million contract with San Fran that allows the southpaw to opt out after the upcoming season and reenter free agency next winter. But that $31 million AAV would've seen Houston blow past the second tier of the Competitive Balance Tax and owe a 42.5% surcharge. Houston's ownership was not willing to go there.

With that in mind, there's still a talented arm available in free agency that's unlikely to cost the Astros too much. Michael Lorenzen, an All-Star last year with the Detroit Tigers, is still lingering on the open market.

Astros’ next move should be Michael Lorenzen after losing out on Blake Snell

MLB insider Jim Bowden is reporting that the Astros do not intend to pursue Jordan Montgomery. That's not shocking, as targeting the free agent lefty would present the same issues as adding Snell. Montgomery is seeking a deal that would pay him upwards of $25 million in 2024 and push Houston into another tier of the Competitive Balance Tax. Signing Lorenzen, however, would not.

Lorenzen's résumé, while not as good as Snell's, is still worthy of consideration. Lorenzen struggled down the stretch last season, but was 9-9 with a 4.18 ERA and 111 strikeouts in 153 innings pitched. Furthermore, his price tag is exactly what the Astros are looking for.

Rumors have persisted throughout the offseason that the reason Lorenzen remains unsigned is due to his desire for a two-year deal. But after back-to-back seasons of signing one-year pacts worth $7 million and $8.5 million respectfully, one can imagine that anything close to $10 million AAV would be enough to lure the right-hander to put a pen to paper and sign a contract.

Michael Lorenzen has been a starter and reliever during his career

Lorenzen is still working on his craft this spring despite not having a team. The 32-year-old threw 70 pitches just last week with his fastball reportedly sitting in the mid-90s. Lorenzen has experience as both a starter and reliever throughout his nine major league seasons.

There's also rumored interest from the New York Yankees, who are looking to offset the loss of their ace Gerrit Cole. The Astros could kill two birds with one stone by securing Lorenzen's services, thus solidifying the rotation, and robbing the Yanks of an opportunity to bring the veteran hurler into the fold.

Lorenzen is just sitting out there waiting to be picked up by a team in need of an extra arm. With Justin Verlander and Jose Urquidy set to begin the season on the IL, the Astros would seem to fit the bill.

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