Details On Francisco Liriano’s Contract

Last December, prior to suffering a broken right (non-throwing) arm, Francisco Liriano agreed to a two-year, $12.75MM contract with the Pirates. After his injury, the two sides worked out a new contract that guaranteed Liriano just $1MM in 2013 but contained $3.75MM worth of incentives and a vesting option that could be worth either $5MM, $6MM or $8MM, depending on time spent on the DL with the right arm injury.

Liriano's 2014 option officially vested when the left-hander reached 90 days not spent on the DL due to the right arm injury. He is currently guaranteed a $5MM salary for 2014, but that figure will jump to $6MM once he reaches 120 games not spent on the DL with his right arm injury. It has currently been 103 days since his activation, meaning his 2014 salary will jump by $1MM on Saturday, Sept. 7.

As far as this season is concerned, MLBTR has also learned Liriano's 2013 bonus structure, which is as follows:

  • 60 days not on DL with right arm injury: $250K
  • 75 days not on DL with right arm injury: $250K
  • 90 days not on DL with right arm injury: $750K
  • 120 days not on DL with right arm injury: $750K
  • 135 days not on DL with right arm injury: $125K
  • 150 days not on DL with right arm injury: $750K
  • 165 days not on DL with right arm injury: $125K
  • 180 days not on DL with right arm injury: $750K

It's not quite as simple as that would seem, though. These bonuses are not standard roster bonuses that are awarded for being on the 25-man roster for a certain number of days, but rather bonuses relative to Liriano's health and ability to help the club. Because of that, it's possible that Liriano could make the case that he was ready to return to the club sooner than he did, which could entitle him to additional bonuses.

Liriano's minor league rehab stint lasted five starts, which could impact his earnings. He missed the season's first 41 days due to his right arm injury, which means that he will max out at 142 days on the 25-man roster. The eight days that separate that mark from the 150-day cutoff carry significant financial implications. Not only would they earn Liriano an additional $750K in 2013, they would also boost the value of his vesting option to its maximum level of $8MM next season. That $8MM salary would come with an additional $500K worth of incentives, which MLBTR has also learned:

  • $150K for 180 innings pitched in 2014
  • $200K for 190 innings pitched in 2014
  • $150K for 200 innings pitched in 2014

Should Liriano's option vest for only $6MM, those incentives still remain in the contract, and he would be able to earn an additional $2MM based on his number of starts made. In that instance, MLBTR has learned that he would receive $400K for reaching five, 10, 15, 20 and 25 starts in 2014.

In either scenario, the maximum that Liriano could earn next year would be $8.5MM. As far as this year's bonuses are concerned, he's already pocketed an additional $1.25MM. He currently stands to receive an additional $750K on Sept. 7 and $125K more on Sept. 22.

In the end, Liriano has proven to be perhaps the biggest bargain of the 2012-13 offseason, regardless of what his salary ends up being. His 2.53 ERA (2.66 FIP, 2.99 xFIP), 9.4 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 and 52.7 percent ground-ball rate in 121 innings this season are statistics worthy of a true "ace" label, but his contract paid him less than pitchers like Joe Blanton and Brandon McCarthy.

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