Left-hander Francisco Liriano and the Pittsburgh Pirates agreed to a two year deal – reportedly valued at $12.75 Million – back on December 21st, but it now appears as though the deal is in jeopardy of not being finalized. Liriano reportedly injured his right arm sometime around Christmas, though the manner in which he hurt himself and the extent of the injury are not yet known. An official announcement had initially been delayed over trouble getting Liriano to Pittsburgh for a routine physical around the holidays.
The 29 year old Liriano made 34 appearances (28 GS) and threw 156.2 innings on the 2012 season, posting an overall record of 6-12 with a 5.34 ERA, 9.6 K/9, and a career high 5.0 BB/9. He was traded midseason from the Minnesota Twins, the only organization he had known in his career, to the Chicago White Sox.
Liriano had been expected to join a starting rotation in Pittsburgh that includes A.J. Burnett, James McDonald, and Wandy Rodriguez – a trio that went a combined 33-22 during the 2012 season. His injury, and the potential that a deal is now not completed between the sides, casts significant doubt on the backend of the Pirates rotation with Spring Training just about a month away. Rookies Kyle McPherson and Jeff Locke would appear to be the front runners among the team’s internal candidates, which is unquestionably a limited group. Charlie Morton is still recovering from Tommy John surgery and will not be ready until midseason. Top prospect Gerrit Cole could be an option, but there is a strong sentiment within the organization to start him back at Triple-A to begin the season.