Pirates move highest paid player on team in Liriano

(Updated: 6:20 p.m.)

Francisco Liriano rumors have been circulating for about two weeks now and the struggling lefty has been traded to the Toronto Blue Jays as the Pirates and Blue Jays just beat the deadline with official paper work being sent to the league at 3:59 p.m.

The deal sends Liriano and prospects Harold Ramirez, Reese McGuire to Toronto in-exchange for pitcher Drew Hutchison (1-0, 4.97 ERA).

Hutchison, 25, has made just three starts in the Majors this season but went 13-5 for the Blue Jays in 2015 with a 5.57 ERA.

In his career, Hutchison is 30-21 with a 4.92 ERA. He has a K/BB ratio of 374/128 in 406.1 career innings.

This season in the minors Hutchison is 6-5 with a 3.26 ERA, 110/35 K/BB ratio in 102 innings pitched.

Hutchison had tommy john surgery in 2012 and does not throw powering stuff. He has a fastball that sits in the 89-92 mph range and is a fly-ball pitcher. Once considered a top-10 prospect in the Jays system, Hutchison is viewed by many baseball insiders as more of a No. 4 type than a No.2 type starter long-term.

That said, indications a week ago was the Pirates were open to moving Liriano if they could land a top prospect in return and with also including Reese McGuire and Harold Ramirez in the deal, both widely considered top-10 prospects in the Pirates system, they certainly view Hutchison as more than a back of the rotation starter.

The Liriano trade isn’t a head-scratcher from the standpoint that the team traded Liriano but it becomes a head scratcher with Reese McGuire included in the deal. McGuire the top catcher in the Pirates system, was the team’s first round pick in 2013 (14th overall).

For the Blue Jays, they’re likely looking at Liriano as a thrown-in to the deal with McGuire and Ramirez being the two main pieces to the deal. They could release Liriano tomorrow and many pundits would still call them winners of the trade.

As bad as Liriano was this season, there was also a three year run (2013-2015) where he was an excellent No. 2 starter and at times the Pirates best starter. Some Pirate fans, maybe even a majority, are going to be angered at this deal in it also being money driven in a big way to go with the steep price of including a prospect like McGuire in the deal.

Does Toronto say no if the deal doesn’t include Liriano and is just McGuire and Ramirez for Hutchison?

Hutchison is making just $505,000 and by keeping him in the minors for most of this season, it will be financially beneficial from the Pirates end long-term to have another year of control.

The Pirates have cleared significant money off their books for next season by moving Jon Niese who had a $10 million option and now Liriano who was the Pirates highest paid player at $13 million.

What we’ve learned from the Pirates in recent days is that the Melancon, Liriano and Nova trades show the Pirates have one foot into 2016 and one foot into 2017.

It also shows everything is also financially driven and that’s not going to change anytime soon.

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Photo: David Hague