2:43pm: Robert Murray of The Athletic tweets that Liriano would earn a $1.8MM base salary if he makes Pittsburgh’s big league roster and could also earn another $1.5MM worth of incentives.
2:35pm: It’s a minor league deal for Liriano, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
2:31pm: The Pirates have agreed to terms on a contract with left-hander Francisco Liriano, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (Twitter link). He’ll return to Pittsburgh, where he pitched from 2013-16 before being traded to the Blue Jays in a 2016 deadline deal.
Liriano, 35, spent the 2018 campaign with the Tigers, for whom he pitched to a 4.58 ERA with 7.4 K/9, 4.9 BB/9 and a 48.3 percent ground-ball rate in 133 2/3 innings. Liriano worked as a starter in 26 of his 27 appearances last season, though he also has some experience working out of the bullpen — namely a 2017 stint with the Astros.
Pittsburgh already has numerous rotation options in house, with Jameson Taillon, Chris Archer, Trevor Williams, Joe Musgrove, Jordan Lyles and the out-of-options Nick Kingham comprising the top current options. Of that bunch, Taillon, Archer and Williams are assured of spots. Looming beyond that grouping in the upper minors is top prospect Mitch Keller, who figures to make his debut at some point in 2019.
The Pirates are thinner in terms of left-handed bullpen depth. Beyond closer Felipe Vazquez, the lone 40-man lefty option for the bullpen is former starter Steven Brault, although Tyler Lyons will be in camp as a non-roster invitee and could provide some competition if the team’s plan is to try Liriano in the bullpen.
Liriano was a mainstay alongside Gerrit Cole in the Pirates’ rotation over the course of that 2013-16 run and, at one point, was one of the organization’s most successful reclamation projects. The southpaw burst onto the scene as both a Rookie of the Year and Cy Young candidate with the Twins in 2006 but saw his stock drop substantially following Tommy John surgery. The Pirates organization helped Liriano reestablish himself, resulting in a 3.26 ERA over his first 510 innings with the Buccos. He’ll look to rediscover there once again if he’s able to crack the 25-man roster in camp.
The initial version of this post mistakenly listed the Padres as the team to sign Liriano. MLBTR apologizes for the error.