Buster Olney has an update on Francisco Liriano today, saying that he’s set up well to be a Plan B after Jon Lester goes off the market.
Francisco Liriano set up well as a Plan B after Jon Lester agrees to terms. Some execs think tipping point will be question of 4 years or 3.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 7, 2014
The first bit of info isn’t a surprise, since almost everyone has been writing about how Lester is holding up the market. When Lester goes, teams will turn to guys like James Shields, Liriano, Brandon McCarthy, and Ervin Santana. Max Scherzer is also available, and is the next best starter after Lester, although there is a belief that Scherzer won’t sign right away.
The notable thing here is that the tipping point could be between three and four years. The FanGraphs crowdsource contract had Liriano at three years and $36 M. Earlier in the off-season, I compared Liriano to recent free agents like Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Ricky Nolasco, who all received four year deals at $48-50 M.
Liriano is perceived as injury prone and inconsistent, so it would make sense that some teams won’t want to commit four years to him. The Pirates are rumored to be pushing hard for him, but there is no word on where they fall on the three or four year debate. It’s not necessary that they get Liriano, but if they don’t get him, they need to get one of the other top starters available after Lester is gone.