The Milwaukee Brewers are a team known for developing pitching, and the Los Angeles Angels are a team that desperately needs more pitching. The Angels acquiring someone like Corbin Burnes or signing former Brewer Josh Hader in free agency would be the dream scenario, but taking a chance on a new former Brewer as a depth addition is something Perry Minasian should consider.
Eric Lauer was selected in the first round of the 2016 draft by the Padres but was traded to Milwaukee after a couple years in San Diego in the deal that sent Trent Grisham to the Padres.
Grisham has filled in nicely in center field for the Padres, but Lauer was a dependable starting pitcher in his own right in both 2021 and 2022 for the Brewers. After an off year in 2023 Lauer spent time in the minors before being eventually outrighted off their 40-man roster. After being outrighted, Lauer elected free agency, free for any team to take a chance on. The Angels should be that team.
Signing Eric Lauer would add much-needed depth to a thin LA Angels pitching staff
Whether the Angels re-sign Shohei Ohtani or not, the rotation is in a bad place heading into 2024 as Ohtani won't be pitching regardless. We know guys like Reid Detmers, Griffin Canning, and Patrick Sandoval will be factoring in, but the back end is rough. Tyler Anderson presumably has a spot locked in because of the contract he's on, but he was just one of the worst pitchers in baseball this past season. The fifth starter as of now is likely Chase Silseth who had good moments in 2023 but is far from proven.
Adding a guy like Lauer who can provide some competition for the back end or even work out of the bullpen would be smart, as he's had some recent success in the majors. From 2021-2022 Lauer made 53 appearances (49 starts) with Milwaukee and posted a 3.47 ERA in 277.1 innings pitched. That'll play!
Of course, this past season was a disaster for Lauer who made just ten appearances (nine starts) and had an ERA of 6.56 in 46.2 innings of work. He was expected to round out one of baseball's best rotations but spent a large portion of the year away from the team in the minors.
Signing Lauer coming off of as bad of a year as the one he just had obviously isn't ideal, but he's just 28 years old and has had more success than most guys who will be seeking small contracts have had. He's a player the Angels can gamble on to see if he can bounce back and work nicely in the middle of their rotation. If he has another bad year, they can simply let him go. Virtually no risk, and a chance for real reward.