The Pittsburgh Pirates are set to sign Francisco Liriano, according to La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. The deal is a two year, $14 M deal.
Liriano is coming off a season where he had a 5.34 ERA in 156.2 innings between Minnesota and the Chicago White Sox. That followed a year where he had a 5.09 ERA in 134.1 innings in Minnesota. The lefty had a breakout season in 2010 at the age of 26, with a 3.62 ERA in 191.2 innings. He struggled with injuries following that year, which may have led to his poor numbers.
His xFIP last year was 4.14, showing that he was throwing better than his numbers suggested. He’s struggled with some control issues the last two years, but his strikeout rate was over a strikeout per inning in 2012. Liriano is a left-hander with a career 9.1 K/9 ratio and a career 47.5% ground ball rate. That’s a great fit for PNC Park. He should slot in the rotation behind A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez, and James McDonald. That should set the rotation, with Jeff Locke and Kyle McPherson battling it out for the final spot.
The Pirates haven’t confirmed the deal, and Neal says it will be finalized after a physical. The 40-man roster is full, so a player will have to come off when Liriano is made official. With no other moves, and assuming Liriano is at $7 M a year, the 2013 payroll currently projects to be over $73 M. That will change if the Pirates deal Joel Hanrahan.