Free agent left hander Francisco Liriano has come to an agreement with the Pittsburgh Pirates, a deal first reported by La Velle E. Neal III of the Minnespolis Star-Tribune. Jon Heyman has chimed in with the contract details. He has Liriano getting two years and just under $13 millionguaranteed.
Liriano just turned 29 years old and still throws hard, so there is reason to think he can once again become an effective starting pitcher. He struggled greatly with control issues over the past two seasons, walking five batters per nine innings in each campaign. That was a significant jump from the 2010 season, where he walked just 2.7 batters per nine innings.
2010 was the last time Liriano was effective, posting a 14-10 record and 3.62 ERA. In the two years since then, Liriano has pitched to ERAs of 5.09 and 5.34 while going 15-22 in 60 appearances (52 starts). Last season, Liriano still struck out better than a batter per inning for the season, split between Minnesota and the Chicago White Sox.
The Twins traded Liriano at the deadline last year, but were involved in talks to bring him back to the organization he called home for the first six-and-a-half years of his big league career. Instead, talks with the southpaw went the wrond direction and Liriano drew interest from a handful of other clubs, most notably the New York Mets.
By adding the second year on the contract, the Pirates take a significant gamble that Liriano can harness his recent wildness and once again be one of the most electrifying lefties in the game. But it probably took getting the second year to get him to sign with the Pirates.
Pittsburgh will give Liriano every opportunity to start and join a rotation that includes A.J. Burnett and Wandy Rodriguez. The Bucs finished 2012 at 79-83, marking the 19th straight losing season for the Pirates.