Welp. Just yesterday, I noted that Francisco Liriano still hadn’t actually signed with the Pirates yet. Now we know why:
The Pirates’ agreement with left-hander Francisco Liriano, struck three weeks ago, appears to be off due to an injury suffered by the pitcher to his non-throwing right arm.
According to an MLB source, Liriano suffered the unspecified injury in late December, shortly after he and the club had come to terms on a two-year, $12.75 million contract.
The injury is serious enough to have precluded Liriano from traveling from his home in the Dominican Republic to Pittsburgh to undergo the prerequisite physical to make the agreement official.
A lot of the specifics are unknown, so I suppose there’s still a chance he could still sign with the Bucs…but this is not encouraging. Neal Huntington and the Pirates didn’t have much to say on the situation since the deal never became official. They may be attempting to negotiate a new deal, or may be holding out hope that the injury isn’t significant (since it isn’t his pitching arm, after all), but if that was the case, he probably would’ve come to Pittsburgh for a physical. This is a classic case of terrible Pirates luck…although it’s better that it happened before he actually signed.
If Liriano is out of the picture, that opens up another hole in the Bucco rotation. It also puts $12.75M back into the offseason spending budget–remember, many felt that the Pirates cut salary with the Joel Hanrahan trade in order to free up money for Liriano.
So now what? Will the Bucs head back on the open market in search of a starter? The biggest name that jumps out on the free agent list is Kyle Lohse, who has received surprisingly little interest this year because he’ll cost a 1st-round draft pick to sign. The Pirates have two 1st round picks this year. Jeff Karstens is also there…it would be pretty ironic if the Bucs went after him, but I wouldn’t rule it out
If the Pirates don’t make another signing or trade to bolster the rotation, they’d likely be going with A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez, James McDonald, Jeff Locke, and Kyle McPherson to start the year. McPherson had some shoulder issues in winter ball (though he says he’ll be good to go) and Locke wasn’t very good during his short time in Pittsburgh, so that would hardly be ideal.