When Michael Lorenzen signed a one-year deal with the Detroit Tigers for 2023, the deal was sort of met with the equivalent of a shrug. Lorenzen had been okay with the Angels, who converted him from a bullpen role to a starting one in 2022. He pitched 97 1/3 innings there and posted a 4.24 ERA. His six seasons prior in Cincinnati as a reliever were up and down; he was a sometimes closer for them and was a good innings-eater.
His 18 starts in Detroit weren't disappointing, but they weren't fantastic either. He pitched for a 3.58 ERA in 105 2/3 innings and was traded at the deadline to the Phillies in return for prospect Hao-Yu Lee, who Philadelphia had signed as an international free agent from Taiwan in 2021.
We know how the story goes from there. Lorenzen went on to make two lights-out starts with the Phillies in his first appearances, including a no-hitter in his first game in front of the home crowd before he declined again and was relegated to a bullpen role by the end of the season.
If anyone had considered the trade already won by the Phillies after the no-hitter, they were proven wrong as September and October unfolded. In fact, given Hao-Yu Lee's ranking as the Tigers' top international prospect by MLB Pipeline, it seems like the exact opposite is true.
Prospect Hao-Yu Lee's newest ranking shows Tigers won Michael Lorenzen trade with Phillies
Lee was the Tigers' No. 8 prospect overall in 2023, coming in above Justyn Henry-Malloy and Colt Keith, who are both expected to get more major league playing time this year. He's still in High-A and only played in eight games with the West Michigan Whitecaps following the trade, but he was starting to mash with the Phillies' High-A team in New Jersey, with a promising .283/.372/.401 line. He was 18 when he signed with the Phillies in 2021, but he had already competed for Taiwan's national team multiple times under the banner of Chinese Taipei.
Although he struggled a bit offensively after coming into the Tigers organization, he's still clearly one to watch out for next season. Conversely, Lorenzen is a free agent who hasn't stirred much interest from teams. If he had been able to sustain the level of performance he brought to his first two starts with Philly, this could be an entirely different conversation. However, with Lee climbing and Lorenzen seemingly falling, the Tigers are the winners of this trade in the end.