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Eric Lauer Walks Out of Pirates Party

Left hand Eric Lauer exercised the statutory clause in his minor league contract with the Pirates and has been cleared for release, tweets Kevin Gorman of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He is also a free agent.

Lauer, 29 next month, pitched well for most of his time in Indianapolis, though his ERA went from 3.95 to 5.52 after he was tagged with six runs in just two innings in his last appearance there. He signed a minor league contract back on March 7 after being non-tendered by the Brewers earlier in the season.

Although Lauer looked to be on his way to breaking away from the Brew Crew in 2021 after adding a slider to his arsenal, his 2023 campaign was a disaster. Since 2021-22, Lauer has pitched to a 3.47 ERA in 277 1/3 innings, showing solid strikeout and walk rates along the way — especially after adding that new breaking ball to his repertoire. However, last year the southpaw posted a 6.46 ERA in 46 2/3 innings. The Brewers optioned him to Triple-A Nashville in hopes of fixing him up, but he posted a 5.15 ERA there as well.

Lauer has been dealing with shoulder and elbow injuries since 2022-23, so he may not have been at full strength for that poor 2023 campaign. He lost more than two miles per hour off his heater last year, dropping from a 93.3 mph average in 2022 to 91.2 mph before he was drafted.

While that last bad outing in Indy skewed Lauer's 2024 ERA, he struck out a sharp 29.1% in his short time with the Pirates organization, combining that mark with a solid 8.7% walk rate. Even if he doesn't get all the way back to his 2021-22 form, Lauer has a 4.30 earned run average in nearly 600 major league innings — a 4.11 mark if you don't include last year's rough play. He only has 4.111 years of major league career time left, so if a team signs him and brings him to the majors at some point, he can be controlled through the 2025 season through arbitration (or until 2026, if his MLB promotion comes with -60 or less remaining in the season calendar).

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