I'm guessing that the first year salary would include performance bonuses for either playing time, or days on the active roster. That's the only way I could see a team being able to work a deal like that.
With the recent addition of Jeff Karstens, the Pirates don't have a huge need for Liriano on Opening Day. They could go with Karstens and one of Kyle McPherson or Jeff Locke to round out the rotation, then bring Liriano in when he's healthy. Obviously you want him back as soon as possible, since he's got the potential ...
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Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.