The Royals are “in talks” with the Blue Jays on starter Francisco Liriano, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). Kansas City has been rumored to be looking at starters even after striking a deal to add Trevor Cahill from the Padres. The club may also have some interest in Jays righty Marco Estrada, Chris Cotillo of SB Nation notes on Twitter.
Liriano, a 33-year-old southpaw, has had a rocky season thus far, posting a 5.99 ERA over 76 2/3 innings over 17 starts. After providing good results late in 2016 upon arriving in Toronto, his longstanding walk problems have resurfaced as his swinging-strike rate has fallen to a career-low 9.7%. On the year, he has managed only 8.2 K/9 to go with 4.9 BB/9.
The Jays are surely interested in finding a taker for Liriano with the club sputtering in the standings. Doing so will undoubtedly require eating a significant portion of the remainder of his $13MM salary. As K.C. looks to find improvements without giving up much in the way of prospects or taking on huge additional payroll obligations, the pending free agent could represent something of a buy-low candidate; he might also conceivably pair well with Cahill if the team sees merit in the idea of piggybacking the two pitchers rather than dedicating a single rotation spot to either.
That said, it is unclear as yet whether the Royals will ultimately choose to go after Liriano. MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan hears (Twitter link) that Kansas City has watched his last two outings. But the southpaw’s “inconsistency has been concerning” to the Royals’ talent evaluators.
Inconsistency has indeed marked Liriano’s career. He was one of the game’s most productive hurlers from 2013 through 2015, when he turned in 510 innings of 3.26 ERA ball. But he has managed only a 5.11 mark in his 239 innings since. And this year, Liriano has made it through more than six innings only twice; he also spent time on the DL with shoulder inflammation.