Francisco Liriano all but had his bags packed for Pittsburgh, but an injury he sustained over the holidays may have put his agreed-to deal with the Pirates in jeopardy.
According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review via ESPN.com, Liriano injured his right arm around Christmas and although Pirates manager Neal Huntington confirmed the injury, he would not disclose how it occurred or if Liriano will miss the beginning of spring training, which is set to start on Feb.12.
“We continue to have dialogue with Francisco’s [agent], but there is nothing to announce at this time,” Huntington said.
The deal he has already agreed to, but is yet to sign is worth a reported $12-14 million over the next two years. Depending on the severity and nature of the injury, he may not end up signing and may not be with a team until later this spring.
He certainly wants to join a Pirates team that showed vast improvement last season compared to seasons past, as Pittsburgh battled for a wild card spot for most of the season and even led the NL Central at one point. If he becomes a Pirate, he would join a already strong rotation that features the arms of A.J. Burnett, James McDonald and Wandy Rodriguez. That trio posted a 33-22 record for the Pirates in 2012.
Liriano would even more depth to that group. Despite enduring a rocky 2012–which he spent with the Minnesota Twins and the Chicago White Sox, posting a 6-12 combined record with a 5.34 ERA–Liriano has been electric at times in a career that has seen him win 53 games with a 4.40 ERA while recording nearly 200 strikeouts. If Pittsburgh can get a .500 season or better out of Liriano, their playoff chances in 2013 will be much improved.
The Pirates’ World Series odds would likely be unaffected by the signing, but they could be a strong dark horse pick at the moment at 50/1. If Pittsburgh didn’t fall off the face of the earth at the end of last season, it would have been playoff bound and as we’ve seen in years past, any team in the postseason has a chance to win it all if they get hot at the right time.