Radhames Liz Rumors

Huntington On Snider Trade, Pitching Market

Here are the highlights of Pirates GM Neal Huntington’s long conversation today with Ken Laird and Guy Junker of TribLIVE Radio (podcast link):

  • The Pirates traded Travis Snider to the Orioles in part because they didn’t envision a likely role for him beyond 2015, Huntington says. Also, because Snider was out of options, removing him from their roster gives them more flexibility.
  • In the past, the Bucs had gotten great results with down-on-their-luck pitchers like Francisco Liriano and Edinson Volquez, but they found those types of pitchers difficult to acquire this offseason, because they now require “$10MM to $12MM to $14MM annually” to sign. Huntington is presumably referring to pitchers like Brett Anderson and Justin Masterson, who looked, heading into the offseason, like they might be good fits for the Pirates. Instead, the Bucs went way under the radar to sign Radhames Liz (who’s pitched in the minors, in Korea, and in the Dominican Winter League in recent years) to a one-year, $1MM big-league deal.
  • The development of the free-agent pitching market this winter demonstrates another reason the Pirates traded Snider, Huntington says — they acquired two pitchers in that deal, Stephen Tarpley and Steven Brault, who could one day be big-league starters.
  • Huntington speaks of the challenges of making decisions based on input from various voices within his front office and scouting staff. “I’m the first to realize that I don’t have the best evaluation skills within our organization,” he says. “I don’t necessarily always have to see it with my own eyes. It helps when I see what they’re seeing, and if I don’t see what they’re seeing, I can ask questions.”

Pirates Notes: Carroll, Liz, Alvarez, Arbitration

The Pirates have reportedly agreed to terms with Korean infielder Jung-ho Kang on a four-year deal that is worth about $16MM and contains a fifth-year option, but that’s not the only chatter coming out of Pittsburgh today. Here’s the latest on the Buccos…

  • Former big league infielder Jamey Carroll has joined the Pirates’ front office and will serve as a special assistant to the baseball operations staff, the team announced earlier today. Carroll, 40, last appeared with the Twins and Royals in 2013. A lifetime .272/.349/.338 hitter in parts of 12 big league seasons, he joins former Pirate Kevin Young as an offseason addition to the baseball operations department. “He’s an outstanding person and there’s a lot of good things that Jamey Carroll, much like Kevin Young, is going to add to this organization,” GM Neal Huntington told Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Specifically, Huntington mentioned the “ability to relate to players and mentor players as a guy who was just there, who just did that.” Brink notes that adding recent big leaguers to the baseball ops department was a goal for the Pirates this winter.
  • Also from that piece, Brink spoke with Huntington and right-hander Radhames Liz about the righty’s contract with the Bucs, and the reason for the delay in finalizing the deal. Reports at the time of the announcement — which came nearly a month after word of the agreement broke — indicated that there were issues with Liz’s physical. However, both Liz and Huntington denied those claims.
  • Both Young and Carroll spoke with Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review about their new roles with the team (video link). Young says he specifically looks forward to working with Pedro Alvarez in the transition from third base to first base — a move that he himself made during his playing days. Carroll notes that he’ll be working a great deal with the club’s infielders but is open to helping in various capacities and learning about other elements of baseball operations.
  • The Pirates opened their voluntary mini-camp today, and Alvarez was not in attendance. While many fans seem to be upset about the notion of Alvarez passing up a chance to work out with the team and improve on his transition to first base, Huntington and manager Clint Hurdle don’t seem too bothered by the decision. Hurdle told MLB.com’s Tom Singer (Twitter link), “I don’t read things into people being there or not. It’s voluntary.” Meanwhile, Huntington told Brink: “Pedro had the complete option to come in and not come in and we expect him to be ready to go the first day of spring training and get after it with Nick [Leyva] but also with Kevin [Young].” Names such as Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker, Francisco Liriano, Josh Harrison and Gregory Polanco (among others) were also absent from the workouts.
  • One last note from Brink, who tweets that the Pirates will again employ a “file and trial” approach to arbitration this winter. In other words, the team will not negotiate arb deals beyond the date on which figures are exchanged — that being this coming Friday. Any unresolved cases at the time of the exchange deadline will be settled in a hearing. Pittsburgh has 12 players eligible for arbitration, so it should be a busy week for them as they look to avoid arb hearings with that group. For those interested, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes took a longer look at “file and trial” clubs in the 2013 offseason.

Pirates To Sign Radhames Liz To Major League Deal

DECEMBER 13: The Pirates have made the Liz deal official, and it’s not a two-year deal, but rather a one-year deal worth $1MM. Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review explains that the Pirates were uncomfortable with the results of Liz’s physical, which led to the lesser deal.

NOVEMBER 21: The Pirates have signed right-hander Radhames Liz to a Major League contract, tweets ESPN’s Jayson Stark. Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net was the first to report that he’d been signed to a big league deal, reporting it as a two-year, $3MM contract (Twitter link).

Some may remember the hard-throwing Liz from his days with the Orioles, with whom he pitched from 2007-09. Liz ranked as a Top 100 prospect per Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus, but he struggled greatly in those three seasons, pitching to a 7.50 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 6.2 BB/9 in 110 1/3 innings. Following his time with Baltimore, the Dominican hurler spent a season with the Padres’ Triple-A affiliate before heading overseas to pitch in Korea.

Liz reinvented himself as a member of the LG Twins in the Korea Baseball Organization, compiling a 3.51 ERA with 454 strikeouts against 240 walks in 518 2/3 innings over a three-year stint. Those numbers are no small feat in the hitter-friendly KBO, and Liz’s best season was his last in Korea — a 3.06 ERA with a league-leading 188 strikeouts in 202 2/3 innings.

The righty returned to pro ball in North America in 2014, notching a 2.95 ERA in 61 innings with the Blue Jays’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates. Liz was said to be mulling over multiple seven-figure offers to return to Japan or Korea, but the Pirates were able to convince him to stay, apparently with a two-year contract that comes with little financial risk.

Pittsburgh is known for revitalizing pitchers under coordinator Jim Benedict and pitching coach Ray Searage. The team has worked wonders with the likes of A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano, Mark Melancon, Jason Grilli, Vance Worley and Edinson Volquez in recent seasons. Liz will be the next reclamation project, it seems. He averaged nearly 94 mph on his heater back in his Orioles days and has what one scout from the Dominican Republic described to Stark as “power stuff” and a “vicious curve.”



Pirates Designate Josh Lindblom

The Pirates have designated reliever Josh Lindblom for assignment, the team announced. The move was made in conjunction with the team’s announcement of the signing of Radhames Liz.

Pittsburgh claimed Lindblom off waivers from the Athletics just five days ago. Lindblom, 27, only made one appearance at the big league level last year in Oakland. Over 84 minor league frames, he posted a 5.79 ERA while striking out 6.4 and walking 2.8 batters per nine. In parts of four seasons in the bigs, Lindblom owns a 3.82 ERA.


Minor Moves: Martinez, Erbe, Liz, Olmsted

Here are some minor moves from around the league…

  • The Angels have signed righty Joe Martinez to a minor league pact, per the club's official transactions page. The 31-year-old Martinez made a pair of appearances for the Indians last season, allowing one run in five innings. He has a 5.82 ERA in 55 2/3 career innings between the Giants, D'Backs, Pirates and Indians and a 4.75 ERA in 548 Triple-A innings. 
  • Right-hander Brandon Erbe has signed a minor league deal with the Rockies, according to the team's transactions page. Erbe, 26, ranked as the game's No. 27 prospect heading into the 2007 season, per Baseball Prospectus, but 2010 shoulder surgery has stalled his once-promising career. The former third-round pick has thrown just 45 minor league innings over the past three seasons as he's battled back from a torn labrum. 
  • The Blue Jays signed right-hander Radhames Liz to a minor league contract, Baseball America's Matt Eddy tweeted this weekend. The 30-year-old was once among the game's Top 100 prospects, per BA, but hasn't pitched in the Majors since 2009. Liz has spent the past three seasons pitching for the LG Twins in the Korea Baseball Organization and led the league in strikeouts last season with 188. However, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet reported (via Twitter) that he'll begin the season rehabbing a knee injury. Liz had a 7.50 ERA in 110 1/3 Major League innings with the Orioles from 2007-09.
  • Brewers senior director of media relations Mike Vassallo tweets that the club has released right-hander Michael Olmsted. Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel spoke with manager Ron Roenicke about the decision to release the 6'6", 282-pound right-hander. Roenicke said they simply wanted to give Olmsted a chance to get an opportunity elsewhere rather than releasing him later in the spring. Olmsted posted a 5.88 ERA in 59 2/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A for the Brew Crew last season, but the 26-year-old has an excellent 3.02 ERA with 11.1 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in his minor league career.

Quick Hits: Liz, Rangers, Cubs, Nationals, Gonzalez

Links for Saturday evening…


Padres Release Radhames Liz

The Padres have released right-hander Radhames Liz, according to the club's official transactions page.  Liz was claimed off waivers from Baltimore last winter, and posted a 4.83 ERA in 25 games (22 of them starts) for San Diego's Triple-A affiliate in Portland in 2010.

Liz, 27, was touted by Baseball America as the second-best prospect in the Orioles' system (behind Matt Wieters) before the 2008 season and ranked as the 69th-best prospect in the game overall.  He has yet to live up to that potential in his limited Major League experience; Liz has a 7.50 career ERA, accumulated in 28 appearances with the Orioles from 2007 to 2009.


International Links: Maya, Rodriguez, Minarik

A peck of links on the second day of the Venezuelan Summer League…

  • Cuban righthander Yuniesky Maya is about to be unblocked and become available to sign, according to his agent, tweets the Toronto Star's Morgan Campbell. In April El Nuevo Herald's Jorge Ebro wrote that interest was heating up for the hard-throwing starter, though he has almost entirely been connected thus far to a single team, the Red Sox. At 28, Maya is a bit older than the new crop of Cubans such as Aroldis Chapman and Juan Yasser Serrano, but Maya told Terreno de Pelota upon defecting last September that after two World Baseball Classics, numerous international tournaments and six Cuban National Series, he was ready to jump straight to the majors a la Orlando Hernandez.
  • The Tigers signed 17-year-old righthanded pitcher Jose Rodriguez last Thursday, according to the Venezuelan paper El Sol de Margarita. Rodriguez reportedly throws a strong slider, changeup, and a fastball that tops out at around 90, though that number could rise un poco once he packs a few more arepas onto his 6-foot, 154-pound frame. For now, he's headed to the aforementioned Venezuelan Summer League.
  • The Phillies have signed 16-year-old Czech pitcher Marek Minarik, reports Baseball de World. Minarik has most recently played for Lokomotiva Louny in the Czech Republic and reportedly received offers from four teams after participating in the recent MLB European Academy Tryout in Prague.

Odds & Ends: Johnson, Cabrera, Mets, Contreras

Here's some discount links on Black Friday…


Padres Claim Radhames Liz

According to a team press release, the Padres have claimed righthander Radhames Liz off waivers from the Orioles. The 26-year-old appeared in two games for the O's in 2009, allowing eight hits and ten runs in just 1.1 innings. He made 17 starts for Baltimore in 2008, putting up a 6.72 ERA in 84.1 IP.

Prior to the 2008 season, Baseball America ranked Liz as the Orioles' number two prospect behind Matt Wieters.