LIRIANO DEAL STILL EXPECTED TO GET DONE
Pitchers and catchers report to spring training in five days and the Francisco Liriano situation is still dragging on as Liriano is unable to pass a physical to complete the deal. However, Liriano has nothing cooking with any other teams and pending the Pirates coming to their senses and getting out of the deal, Liriano will be a Pirate at somepoint for the 2013 season.
There is still a reworked agreement in place between the two sides, but it's just up in the air as to when Liriano will officially become a Pirate. The Pirates don't expect Liriano to be ready for start of the season and there's some tricky language in the contract for year one of the deal, but the Pirates are still offering up to $8 million in year two of the deal. Liriano's current injury is to his non-throwing arm. Prior to Liriano injuring himself around Christmas time, the Pirates and Liriano agreed to a 2 year, $12.75 million deal on December 21st. The reworked deal has a max total of $12.75 million but is not guaranteed.
Liriano, 29, went 6-12 with a 5.34 ERA last season. He threw 167 strikeouts in 156 2/3 innings and was 6th in the AL with 87 walks last season splitting time with the Twins and Whitesox. Since his Tommy John Surgery in November 2006, dealing with arm issues has been an issue, ranging from a tired arm to a sore shoulder over the years. Liriano though has averaged over 100 innings the past five seasons and is just two years removed from a masterful 2010 campaign when he went 14-10 with a 3.62 ERA and had 201 strikeouts and just 57 walks. That year Liriano's slider was rated by fangraphs as the best slider in the baseball based off their pitch value.
STARTING ROTATION DEPTH
The Pirates enter spring training with what they feel is their deepest rotation from a depth standpoint in the Neal Huntington era.
When healthy the Pirates envision A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez, and Francisco Liriano anchoring the top three with James McDonald, Jeff Karstens likely rounding out the top-5. At least that's the hope.
Management feels they are going to be seven strong with Kyle McPherson and Jeff Locke also in the mix.
The Liriano injury will have a good battle brewing between McPherson and Locke for a rotation spot to open the season and possibly spring training invitee Jonathan Sanchez finding his 2010 form and emerging as a serious candidate for a roster spot.