UPDATE 3:30 PM: A source outside of the Pirates’ organization, who is currently in the Dominican Republic, says that there are no mixed reports down there about the Pirates signing Liz. Every report out of the Dominican Republic has Liz signing with the Pirates. I also received word from a reliable source that he is flying into Pittsburgh tonight, so the possible reason we aren’t hearing confirmation is that the contract is just agreed on and possibly the signing/physical is keeping it from being official.

For what it’s worth, FOX Sports has the deal listed as a minor league deal on their transaction page and that it’s official. Liz reportedly turned down a 2/3M contract out of Japan and a contract from Korea that could have paid as much as $2.2M for one year if he reached all the incentives. Plus we heard that a total of 11 teams from three countries were showing interest, so the dollar amount for the deal makes sense. This obviously isn’t the same pitcher that struggled for three seasons in Baltimore.

UPDATE 11:45 AM:  A couple more notes while we wait for confirmation. There are multiple new reports out of the Dominican claiming he is signing with the Pirates. One pointed out that the Pirates just signed Gustavo Nunez from the same winter league team yesterday. Liz has been scratched from his start tonight. Word is that 11 teams from three different countries were showing interesting, including at least three major league teams. The Diamondbacks were one of the teams mentioned.

UPDATE 9:35 AM Wednesday: C.J. Nitkowski, who originally reported that Liz had offers to pitch in Korea, is now saying that he won’t be signing in Korea and that he has “secured a deal with an NL team”. Still no confirmation on the deal.

https://twitter.com/CJNitkowski/status/535065249289084929

UPDATE 11:43 PM: From Tim Williams…

I just heard back from a high ranking official in the Pirates’ organization about the report out of Korea on Liz. The response I got was a simple “I would not run with that.” So for now, it appears the report is incorrect. It’s unclear at the moment whether this means the report is completely false (aka, no interest in Liz at all), or if something specific is incorrect (terms, maybe it’s not official, etc).

There’s also a report out of the Dominican Republic confirming the original report, and saying that Rene Gayo saw Liz throwing 95-96 MPH. To recap, two reporters from two different countries are reporting the deal. One reporter has had good info on Liz before. The other has info that Rene Gayo scouted Liz. No confirmation from the organization, but not exactly a denial either. This one remains one to watch.

11:19 PM: A credible source out of Korea is reporting that the Pittsburgh Pirates have signed 31-year-old right-handed pitcher Radhames Liz for two years/$3M. Liz had hit 100 MPH in the past, so he is a big arm, but he hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2009. He reportedly had offers this off-season in Japan for over $1M for one season and three MLB teams were showing interest. Liz spent part of 2014 in the minors with the Toronto Blue Jays. He is currently in the Dominican Republic pitching winter ball, where he has a 1.90 ERA, 29 strikeouts and a .195 BAA in 23.2 innings. More on this shortly as we are working to confirm it.

 

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67 COMMENTS

  1. Regardless how he does with the Bucs, I don’t see a future in jersey sales. The average fat yinzer isn’t wearing something with “Liz” on the back.

  2. Kiley McDaniel has written a few times recently on how the Yankees have been “overpaying” Minor League free agents as a way of adding depth. Well worth the read (http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-yankees-found-another-way-to-outspend-every-other-team/)

    This would certainly seem to be an extreme example of that thought process if it is a minor league deal, although the logic would still stand up IMO.

    If it’s a Major League deal, the marginal cost is only a million bucks a year. A team with a payroll in the $80-90m range should absolutely be willing to take chances like that. Good to see the organization evolving from the days of non-tendering relievers over a few hundred grand.

  3. i’ve learned to never question NH when it comes to pulling useful bullpen arms out of thin air like a bad magician pulling coins from behind peoples’ ears.

    Radhames Liz. Jebus.

    • We heard about this almost an hour before we posted anything because it didn’t make sense at first. Then when we looked into it and saw 11 teams interested(including Pirates), similar deals being offered, the way he has been pitching in the Dominican, Rene Gayo scouting him and Liz throwing strikes at 95-96 MPH as a starter, it made a lot more sense. I think everyone is doing the same thing we did at first, saying Radhames Liz, why? I obviously have no idea how they plan to use him since they haven’t even confirmed there is a deal, but he has been a starter and dominating as a starter, so I wouldn’t just assume he is a bullpen arm just yet.

        • With his career I’m sure they have seen him plenty over the years, but his performance in the Dominican has probably sold them on him and we know Rene Gayo was at his last start. Liz has apparently been heavily scouted this winter

  4. Everything I’ve read states Liz had command issues. One thing these guys seem to be good at is ironing out command and mechanical issues. I’m intrigued to see what these guys do with this guy.

      • I won’t go that far, but I’m definitely interested in seeing what they have. Let’s face it, 3 million over 2 years will not stop them from sign other targets.

  5. Committing a Major League contract to this guy shows the incredible amount of influence/respect/trust that Gayo has within the organization.

  6. Sometimes… I know , I know, but sometimes…A guy with big time velocity finds his command ad maybe since we last seen him , added a plus 3rd pitch as well as just needing a tweak in delivery ,etc. Now for the rub. Our guys mentioned, Searage and Benedict ca help w adjustments .. But it goes way beyond that . It seems NH has seeded the furthest reaches of the baseball world with scouting types that know what they are looking at , or maybe even guys that meet the “JIMMY I ‘LL FIX-IT” criteria of our Pitching guru’s

  7. Ok, so that’s pitcher #3 signed to the Bucco Big Arm Reclamiation Company after Lincoln and Blake Wood. Heck, after Grilli, then Holzkom I have no problem with trying to find something in a 30something who may have finally figured out how to pitch.

      • This guy is garbage. If they gave him $3M I’ll be pretty angry. With this team every penny counts, so $3M is more than it seems.

        • YOU are garbage ! Pretend you have a clue for once. I would pay money to see a clown like you in the box facing a pitcher like Liz. You would run home to your Mommy crying after peeing your pants.

          • Well considering I have never faced pitching higher than that of high school seniors, and haven’t seen live pitching in nearly 5 years, I probably would be grossly overmatched. However, Major League hitters are not grossly overmatched against garbage pitchers like Liz. I don’t want garbage players on my favorite sports team, because then they’ll be a garbage team. Just like they were for 20 of the last 22 years.

            • Ah, that explains it. When you eventually mature enough to gain the slightest bit of self awareness, you’ll come to realize that marty34156 saying a player he’s never seen in his life “sucks” isn’t a very compelling argument when an actual professional such as Rene Gayo has a differing opinion.

              Oh to be young again…

              • Just wait until this piece of garbage has an ERA of 7.50 for the Pirates next year, if they’re dumb enough to sign him that is. The BMTIB is pretty dumb, so they probably are.

                • You just keep going Marty. I really do think you’d be better off switching teams. The “BMTIB” has turned up useful arms time and time again. At this point, I trust their opinions. If it doesn’t work out, they’ve also shown they aren’t afraid to make a hard decision.

          • I also added just before that 11 teams were showing interest in him and a team from Japan put forth the same offer of 2/3M

            • I’d feel better with them spending $50 million on that 20-year old Japanese kid who touches 100 AND can hit 20 homers 🙂

  8. Dang, Neal Huntington is looking under rocks, bed mattresses, South Korea, anywhere to find bullpen arms. I like it. Maybe those guys we just brought back from North Korea were actually Pirates scouts?

  9. $3 million for two years of a guy who was 26-38 in Korea and was only worth $1 million to a Japanese club?

    If Searage and Benedict fix this guy and turn him into something useful, they should just retire and set up a pitching camp for stiffs of all walks of life with MLB dreams. They’d make gazillions.

    • He had a one year offer for $1.2M with as much as $1M in incentives and then a two year offer in Japan for $3M, plus multiple MLB teams were showing interest, so the contract makes sense if it is true, but no one with the team has confirmed it yet. The sources from Korea and Dominican Republic reporting it are well-respected sources, but don’t count it as signed yet. Liz is pitching in the DR right now and from the sound of it, there is nothing to fix with him, he is dominating. Not giving up hits, not walking anyone, high strikeout numbers, throwing strikes at 95-96 MPH.

      • I’ll bite. A 31-year old who was pretty much mostly awful with poor control his entire career suddenly puts everything together. Happens all the time.

        If this story ends with some coach telling him to put his fingers closer together, then the Bucs better have a database of every 27-33 year old in the world with 95+ velocity and a high walk rate and start talking to them.

        • Really?

          I don’t know how anyone can still be surprised when a reliever comes “out of nowhere” to have success. Literally happens dozens of times, every year.

          • Not with a 9-year career mediocrity like Liz. And especially not a 31 year old. A 25 year old who’s bounced around AA and AAA with several teams and found the right coach, maybe.

            If it happened dozens of times every year with 30+ year olds it wouldn’t be news and we’d expect to see more of them in Pittsburgh.

            • Zach Duke just signed a $15m deal after being cut in three consecutive seasons. Wade Davis, Jake McGee, and Sean Doolittle – three of the top five most valuable relievers in all of baseball last year – were in their late 20’s before finding big success.

              It happens all the time.

              • Apples and oranges. Davis had four years of positive WAR at the MLB level before becoming a star. McGee had very good numbers in the minors, made it to MLB for good by age 24 and already compiled a 2 WAR year in 2012 at 26. Doolittle wasn’t even converted to a pitcher until 2011. Duke had a number of votes for RoY. None of them had to go to Korea to keep their dream alive when not a single team in MLB wanted them.

                None of your examples is remotely close to the mess that Liz has been.

                • It’s not worth the time to do the research but I could spend an hour and find about 20 guys who were toiling and then had a few real good years and then went back to toiling. Buddy Groom comes to mind. Is it worth a 3 mil commitment over 2 years? I don’t know. There might be a better more consistent option but I’m sure they have scouts out there that know…and their record with relievers speaks for itself.
                  Brad Lidge made 54 mil as a player and around all the great seasons he had 5.28 & 7.21 ERAs where he went 1-13 with horrific blown saves numbers mixed in, and he made 16 mil in those 2 seasons. 12 mil in the worst one. So not even top relievers are automatic. I think back to Matt Capps, Mike Lincoln, Mike Williams, Jose Mesa, Joel Hanrahan…they all had many up and down stretches and they are closers who are usually better then the average reliever.

                  • I’m not suggesting they shouldn’t sign him if the braintrust thinks so. They’ve earned that leeway.

                    All I’m saying is that this appears to be the longest of longshots they’ve attempted to date. 31 years old. No real pedigree, no history of even minimally sustained success at any level in the US (although 3 years as what appears to be a 4/5 starter in Korea for whatever that’s worth). All he has is a power arm that history shows he hasn’t been able to control.

                    Like Holdzkom, but 4 years older. I can’t think of a comparable.

                    • If you go by stats you would be right on, but in this case it is about scouting and what they see, something you can not possibly see at this point. The Pirates are not dumb, if they sign him they see something the stats don’t tell.

                    • That may be true. But it doesn’t change the fact that Liz is not like every other example cited thus far. Still the biggest reach Bucs have attempted to date.

                      And if they somehow get a couple of quality MLB years out of Liz, that expands the pool of potential pitchers. So now my question is how many scouts the Bucs can afford, can they keep Gayo on board, what happens if the Dodgers throw millions at Benedict and so on and so forth… you know, typical Pirates fan thinking 🙂

                    • yes they are dumb.a couple good years to get the fans off nuttings back dont mean anything.pirates are a losing organization.every now and then.they put together a good couple of seasons.the 70s are the only exception .signing burnett was a mistake

                    • Frank, there are sites for people that hate the Pirates, this is not one of them, most of us here know the organization very well.

                      Obviously you have been in space for the last 4 years and do not realize that this is not your grandfathers organization any more. It is well built, well maintained and in good shape to contend for many years.

                • Weren’t you arguing yesterday that players can change their talent level in ways that statistics and numbers cannot interpret?

                  • Yes I was. And I’m dying to know what clicked with this guy after 9 years of professional baseball where he’d accomplished basically nothing (unlike Martin who was well established, had a pretty good track record in the past and admitted he needed better conditioning).

                    I’ll say this much for Liz, he really wanted to chase that dream. If it comes true for him, fantastic story.

                  • Yes I was. And I’m dying to know what clicked with this guy after 9 years of professional baseball where he’d accomplished basically nothing (unlike Martin who was well established, had a pretty good track record in the past and admitted he needed better conditioning).

                    I’ll say this much for Liz, he really wanted to chase that dream. If it comes true for him, fantastic story.

                    • I have no opinion of this signing/non-signing, there is so little information on which to even form an opinion. General rule solid relief pitching can literally come out of nowhere, this isn’t even a point of debate. Clearly you have a very high burden of proof for finding a comparable pitcher, so I have no idea what would satisfy that burden of proof.

                      Maybe relax those parameters and look at someone like Grilli who from the age of 23-32 faced 1500 MLB hitters with a 4.50 FIP. And spent his age 33 season if AAA (performing very well,) where any team could have signed him to major league contract.

          • I am beginning to think that relievers are like hockey goalies and NFL field goal kickers – they go hot and cold depending on their mental state.

          • I am beginning to think that relievers are like hockey goalies and NFL field goal kickers – they go hot and cold depending on their mental state.

          • Close but no cigar. Vogelsong was good enough to have stuck in MLB long enough to qualify for pension before he left the country. Liz never came close to sticking with a team – three cups of coffee, all with poor results.

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