Pirates Rumored to Be Interested in Francisco Liriano For Just Three Years

Yesterday, Buster Olney wrote that the tipping point for the Francisco Liriano bidding could come down to three or four years. Liriano might have difficulty finding a team to give him four years, due to his lack of consistency, and the fact that he has never pitched 200 innings. He hasn’t pitched more than 162 innings in each of his last five years, and has only topped that total once, throwing 191.2 innings in 2010.

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe has another update on Liriano. He talked to a few teams who feel that Liriano getting a four- or five-year deal seems far-fetched. He also said that the Pirates appear to only be interested for three years. That gives an answer to the question I had yesterday, wondering if the Pirates were a team that could go four years to sign the lefty.

As I’ve mentioned before, the Pirates don’t need to sign Liriano specifically. They need a good pitcher for the top of their rotation, and Liriano fits that bill. If he signs elsewhere, they will have other options, such as Brandon McCarthy and Ervin Santana in free agency, and plenty of options available on the trade market. The team seems to prefer Liriano to everyone else, and they’ve been said to be making him a priority. Nothing should be expected to happen on the Liriano front until Jon Lester signs and kicks off the starting pitching market.

  • Offer him 3 years 42 million with a mutual option for a 4th year for around 5 million. I bet he takes it We cannot afford to let Liriano go yet. McCarthy,Santana to not have the same upside in my opinion. They are not # 1 starters. When Liriano is on his game he can pitch with anyone in baseball. Plus he’s left handed which we need in this park. He’s our ace. c’mon Franky. This is the place you’ll have most success and fulfill the contract. Give him a shot to earn If we give him a 4th year at 5 million we’re still going to be paying guys like Taillion,Kingham and Glasnow affordable contracts. DO IT

  • Brian K. Rhodes
    December 8, 2014 8:29 pm

    Liriano wants 4/60. If you guys think he signs for 3/40, I think you are dreaming. If the Giants sign Lester they won’t be in on Liriano. But if they lose out on Lester , they will go after Liriano as a backup plan.

  • I’m willing to consider an alternative viewpoint if one is out there, but this kind of bidding war strikes me as one in which the Pirates consistently have demonstrated a poor track record – they usually don’t win this kind of contract negotiation. The Pirates do fine when the pitcher in question is coming off one or more bad seasons, and most other teams have backed off, but that is not the case with Liriano. Overall, this looks like another bidding contest where the Pirates traditionally, unfortunately, have not won. Maybe things have changed??

    • There is no alternate point of view. This is how Major League Baseball intrinsically is set up to function.

      Remember, while the Pirates payroll may be increasing, their buying power is actually decreasing by way of the disproportionate amount of revenue entering the game.

    • The thing helping the Pirates here is the draft pick attachment to Liriano. The draft pick theoretically makes teams less willing to buy him at the rate that he thinks he is worth.

      Therefore, the Pirates should still be able to get him for less than what he is actually worth, since other teams shouldn’t be willing to pay him what he’s actually worth.

      • I hope you are right, but honestly I am not as optimistic as I think you are. As far as lost opportunity cost, I imagine the Pirates view Liriano as costing them not a first round pick (which would be lost by most other teams who might sign Liriano), but that it will cost the Pirates a near first round pick (the compensation pick just after the first round that the Pirates will get if they do not re-sign Liriano and some other team does). So as far as draft picks are concerned, it would cost most other teams a little higher draft pick than it would cost the Pirates but the cost would be not too much different (unless a team that finished with a record in the bottom ten last year signed Liriano, then they would lose a 2d round pick, as I recall the rules, which would be less costly than the “loss” of the Pirates’ potential compensation round draft pick which they would not get if they re-signed him). (BTW, I understand that the Pirates will have their first round pick regardless what they do with respect to Liriano). At any rate, I am rather pessimistic that any lost draft pick difference would be enough to overcome the Pirates’ traditional, usual inability to win these kind of bidding contests. I hope they have changed, but I am afraid they haven’t.

  • I am not going 4 years for Liriano when I don’t even know if he will be good next year, his track record is not good year to year. IMO Liriano will never give the Pirates 4 good years and with the talent coming from the Pirates system, they simply don’t need him that long. Volquez would be a far better get for 2-3 years than Liriano would be for 4.

  • RichardJarzynka
    December 8, 2014 1:33 pm

    It looks like Billy Beane is going with Ike Davis as his starting 1B. The A’s traded Brandon Moss to the Indians today and they have already avoided arbitration with Davis by signing him to a $3.8M, one year contract.

    • Good for Ike.

    • And for what? a Minor league 2nd basemen.

    • Classic, smart Billy Beane move. At least pre losing-his-mind-and-going-“all-in” Billy Beane.

      Decent chance that Ike Davis and Brandon Moss are less than a win apart given equal playing time.

      • RichardJarzynka
        December 8, 2014 5:16 pm

        I agree. And Moss is projected to get close to $4 million more in arbitration than Davis signed for.

        • That being said, I don’t envision Ike Davis actually being a better baseball player than Brandon Moss, and Beane didn’t get much value back for him.

          Unless the A’s are trying to cut payroll, was this move actually necessary?

          • Probably is necessary to make up for the money they didn’t make by failing to go deep in the playoffs after going “all in” obtaining great pitching. Small market teams have no margin for error.

  • lonleylibertarian
    December 8, 2014 12:38 pm

    With Hammels getting essentially 3 for $30M I am inclined to go for four with Frankie – he more valuable than Hammels and would provide 150+ innings. The price of pitching is going up and locking in a quality arm – albeit one who misses 5-8 starts a year due to injury is financially sound. He is a better option than Santana – and while I would be OK with McCarthy – I am not sure the Yankees will let him go for the same as the Bucs could sign Liriano.

    • 4 and $48 is reasonable for him for his age 32-35 seasons. Frankie seems like a good bet for 2 wins a year. We are in agreement for the rare instance.

      • If a serious step down from Liriano, like Hammels, gets 3 for 30 then Liriano is getting more than a 2 million a year bump with an additional year. If a team like SFG misses on Lester, they have plenty of money to offer Liriano 3 year 15 million per, and an option for a 4th year.

    • Also key to note some are suggesting Hammels liked CHC and may have taken less money to stay with them, which means Liriano will get a good deal more than that.

  • I understand and basically agree with Pirates philosophy of not hamstringing the future by entering into long-term expensive deals. I get it that baseball players are fragile from both a health and production standpoint. But there’s always exceptions to the rule.
    Basically, it’s a flip of a coin if Liriano will still be productive in 4th year of deal. The reasons I take the gamble if that’s what it takes to bring him in are:
    1. He gives Pirates the best chance to win in 2015 & 2016.
    2. As Payroll continues to increase, the negative impact of one bad contract in the 12-15mm range is less impactful.
    3. If his health or performance start to decline w age, it shouldn’t be as big of a drag on franchise because Cole, Taillon and Glasnow should be leading the rotation by 2018.
    I say swallow hard NH, and do what it takes to get this deal done.

  • RichardJarzynka
    December 8, 2014 11:41 am

    Steamer projects Liriano to have a 3.46 FIP next season. They project Stolmy Pimentel for a 3.92 FIP. Over the course of 160 innings, that’s a difference of about 8 Runs Allowed.

    • I really thought contracts would take a dip since the implementation of the hgh testing. Boy was I wrong. These teams handing out these outrages long term contracts will be feeling the pain in the long run. I’m glad the Pirates are smart enough to not get tangled up in the mess of these free agent deals.

      • RichardJarzynka
        December 8, 2014 12:44 pm

        Some teams are already feeling the pain of the big, long-term contracts. Prince Fielder gave the Rangers nothing last year. And Joey Votto didn’t provide value anywhere near his salary.

    • This is myopic Taylorism. That Steamer projection (yes projections don’t project playing time) is 40 innings of relief work. I going to assume the error bars around that project are huge.

      Pimental had the best rated slider in the Pirates system, but is he a starting pitcher at this juncture?

      • He is stretched out to be a starter.

        • Which is the least of most peoples worries when it comes to him. Its more the fact that his velo was a yo yo last year and his control lacks at times. Also doesnt have a great 3rd pitch when struggling.

          • He is out of option so it is now or never for him. He will have spring training to show the Pirates what he has

            • He is a relief pitcher. At best, he would be competing for a 5th rotation spot with 3 guys that already have experience and semi success in the bigs. Rotation already includes Cole, AJ, Worley. Add in another SP from FA and its 3-4 guys fighting for a last rotation spot that Morton may claim mid season. Even if one is of the opinion that Worley doesnt have a spot locked down, that still leaves him fighting an uphill battle with 3-4 guys ahead of him. Long relief man.

              • I think Pimentel is a deluxe reliever because he is a horse and decent enough to give you spot starts. He has swingman written all over him.

            • I think Pimental is a reliever, fastball hard slider combination doesn’t turn over the order well.

      • RichardJarzynka
        December 8, 2014 12:42 pm

        You’re right about the projection being based on 40 innings of relief pitching and that the FIP projection might be higher for him as a starter. I’m going to look up myopic Taylorism.

      • RichardJarzynka
        December 8, 2014 12:45 pm

        The better comparison to Liriano’s 3.46 FIP projection – for the purpose of my comments – would have been Justin Masterson’s 3.94 projection.

        • That is a better comparison. And when the risk is injury, a shorter term deal is inherently better, whom ever signs Masterson needs to ensure that the 3 mph velocity loss was due to his knee injury and that issue is has or is likely to be resolved.

          Bigger issue is the goal shouldn’t be to build the most efficient team, Pirates need quality starting pitching innings. If the 3rd and 4th years are scaring them off of Liriano the same would apply to other 2nd tier options, which leads to the question where are those innings coming from?

          • RichardJarzynka
            December 8, 2014 1:50 pm

            I’ve read that Masterson’s knee ailment is expected to be healed by an off-season of rest, but that must be assured before signing him.

            I think the Pirates do need to be concerned with efficiently spending whatever amount they do spend, but the bigger issue in this case is that they are not just attempting to build a winner for 2015. With any personnel moves they make, they also have to consider how it will affect their chances of winning in 2016, 2017, and 2018.

            My plan for Liriano would be to offer him 2 years, $30M, with options for third and fourth years that would be automatically triggered by pitching 150 – 160 innings in the second and third years.

            • “My plan for Liriano would be to offer him 2 years, $30M, with options
              for third and fourth years that would be automatically triggered by
              pitching 150 – 160 innings in the second and third years.”

              It’s a nice thought and certainly responsible fiscal management, but it’s not going to fly if anyone else offers a guaranteed third year.

              He’s a quality lefty starter. Unless his body simply falls apart like Johan Santana, he’ll be a tradeable commodity mid-2016 and later.

              Personally, I think any argument over money really doesn’t apply until 2017 when Bucs will need a new 2b, a new 1b, probably a new catcher, and a bunch of pen/bench parts. But while two years is the need, it’s going to take three to be in the conversation.

              • I call BS on the ease with which you assume his body has to fall apart for him to see injury. This guy, at a young age, has seen plenty of the DL. Its not an extreme to see him getting injured multiple times in a 4 year deal and being a seriously low value option while hurt. He is a quality LHP, and a good pitcher. However, he is a guy you cannot sign with the intent to trade him at age 34-35. He isnt a great bet to be fully healthy.

                • And what makes you think Taillon won’t go the Medlen/Beachy route with a second TJ?

                  It’s all projection and guessing for any given player in any given year. But the Johan Santana cases are rare. A pitcher like Liriano can miss half a season and still give you a 1+ WAR. Locke can’t do that when healthy.

                  Injuries happen. There are no guarantees. But if I were a betting man, I’d bet that between now and end of 2016 Frankie pitches more innings than Morton. And probably more than Locke and Worley.

                  • You cant use “he might get injured” as a logical argument, as proven by the rest of your post where you admit anyone can get hurt. Anyone can get hurt at any time, so assuming TJ=more TJ isnt backed by a ton of hard evidence. I can find just as many guys that had TJ, recovered and had fine careers as you can the Beachy examples. At this moment in time, Taillon is a TOR type arm basically 3 playing months from being in the bigs. Kingham is a mid rotation type arm getting seasoning. Sure, any prospect can fall flat, but those with AAA experience and success do so at a lower rate.

            • I have more concern about Masterson, he started the year throwing only 90-91 mph and it took several months before his first DL stint. In addition, why did the Indians only offer 2 years $25 million on an extension last off-season, when he apparently would have signed what would have been consider a team friendly deal?

              http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2014/03/21/what-are-the-indians-thinking-with-justin-masterson/

              Attempting to efficiently allocate every bit of payroll is a fine ideal, but that isn’t how free agent contracts (past one and two year deals) function, they are signed attempting to extract value up front knowing full well that by the end of deal the player will be paid more than he is worth.

      • You use the term “Myopic Taylorism” then you misspell Pimentel. You almost had me. So many people spell it Pimental on here…Is it because they are spelling it like it is pronounced with a western PA accent? It has to be. This has been perplexing me for over a year now.

        • My first sentence was rude, I just had a visceral reaction to using FIP or any single number to compare two players who aren’t really equivalent. I wouldn’t draw too many conclusions from my spelling, I pretty bad at spelling names (and clearly too lazy to see if it is correct.)

    • Show me one pitcher Steamer projected accurately and I’ll show you 10 it didn’t. It’s a nice talking point, but reality is still reality.

      • RichardJarzynka
        December 8, 2014 7:24 pm

        And what is the reality of how the pitchers will perform next season? And how do you know?

        • The reality is that few pitchers will perform right to the numbers Steamer projects. You’re a very intelligent guy and you know that. So why are you arguing?

          I wanted to give you FIP #s, but 2014 projections have already been replaced by 2015 on Fangraphs, and Steamers Google Docs don’t provide FIP/xFIP. So you’ll have to settle for this, which is just as convincing.

          2014 Steamer Pre-Season vs 2014 Actual:
          Cole: 3.88/1.30 vs. 3.65/1.21
          Worley: 4.43/1.38 vs. 2.85/1.21
          Liriano: 3.69/1.29 vs. 3.38/1.30
          Volquez: 4.56/1.43 vs. 3.04/1.23
          Locke: 4.17/1.41 vs. 3.91/1.27
          Wandy: 4.01/1.39 vs. 6.75/1.69
          Morton: 4.01/1.37 vs. 3.72/1.27
          Cumpton: 4.21/1.36 vs. 4.60/1.43

          Pimintel: 3.79/1.30 vs. 5.23/1.53

          Bonus: They projected Jeff Karstens with 31 starts and 191 innings. And they were bullish on Kyle McPherson.

          They were fairly close with Liriano, but of the list, he’s the one with the most full seasons of data to work from (if you exclude Wandy).

          So that’s why I don’t pay a ton of attention to Steamer for pitchers at this point.

  • RichardJarzynka
    December 8, 2014 11:38 am

    The Pirates would be better off with Justin Masterson on a one year contract than Francisco Liriano on a four year contract.

    • Is it reasonable to assume that Masterson will do any better than a 4 ERA?

      Yeah it’s a good bet that a Masterson deal will be the better value as far as performance per dollar. I think a reasonable prediction is a 4 ERA, 1.5 WAR, and a 1 yr, $10 mil contract.

      But the Pirates do also have to stuff as many wins as possible onto the team for ~$90-95 mil. A reasonable prediction for Liriano is probably more like a 3.5 ERA, 3 WAR, and a bigger contract.

      I guess i just wanna highlight that “better value” doesn’t necessarily mean “better” for a team that is on the critical point of the Win Curve. a difference between 88 wins and 87 wins is much bigger than the difference between 74 and 75, yada yada.

      Now if you argued that Masterson would be very close to Liriano as far as performance, then I’d listen.

      • RichardJarzynka
        December 8, 2014 12:39 pm

        I agree with your projections for both Masterson and Liriano. Steamer puts Masterson at a 3.94 FIP.

        I would also agree that the performance difference Liriano and Mastersons looks to be about one win for the team and that could be significant.

        My concern would be giving Liriano a three or four year contract. As Tim noted in his article, Liriano has not pitched more than 163 innings since 2010. He also was a below average starter in the two seasons prior to coming to the Pirates and he had Tommy John surgery early in his career. I don’t think it’s a good idea to commit $12 – $15 million dollars, four seasons from now, to a pitcher will be 34 years old in that year.

        I would recommend offering Liriano a 2-year/$30M contract with options for third and fourth years that would be automatically triggered if the pitches at least 150 – 160 innings in both the second and third years.

      • Masterson is similar to Worley but with a better track record. I like Masterson but part of me doesn’t want too many 91 mph sinkerballers in there because they are up and down because so much is left to the luck of where groundballs end up.

    • Have you been paying attention at all the last couple seasons? Liriano is a SP who can match up w competitors Ace. Masterson has a better chance of imploding like Jonathon Sanchez than beating Wainwright in a September matchup.
      Pirates need a stud, preferably a lefty. We don’t need another #4/5 SP to compete w Worley, Cumpton, Locke, etc.

      • RichardJarzynka
        December 8, 2014 1:01 pm

        I’m paying attention to the last two seasons and more.

        I’m looking at the last four seasons. The possibility that Liriano will require a 4-year $50M commitment. The fact that Liriano has not pitched more than 163 innings in any of the last four season. The Tommy John surgery that he had early in his career. And the fact that he would be 34 years old in the last season of that $50M contract.

        Liriano’s xFIPs over the past four seasons: 3.40, 3.12, 4.14, 4.52

        Masterson’s xFIPs: 4.08, 3.33, 4.15, 3.64

        I would rather risk one year and $10M on Masterson than 4 years and $50M on Liriano.

        • Things that make you go hmm. Much food for thought there rj, keep it up and somebodies head may explode! Lol

        • What Liriano has going for him is that he is a hard throwing lefty with a nasty second pitch and solid third pitch and that he can be a dominant strikeout pitcher. That puts him way ahead of the other guys mentioned stuff-wise. He’s inconsistent but I like a gamble on him because a lot of starters stabilize their ups and downs at his age…especially lefties. I think his sub 4.00 FIP for 2 straight years for the first time ever helps prove that. If he signs a 4 year deal and they can get even 650-700 innings out of him over that contract he will be well worth the money. Problem is, he has never thrown 200 innings. It’s a tough call because it’s easy to get enamored with his potential but you have to consider he is a guy that makes about 75% of his potential starts per year.

        • Scott Kliesen
          December 8, 2014 2:27 pm

          First of all what happened 3-4 years ago is meaningless other than to say Liriano is trending up and Masterson isn’t.

          Second, if salaries continue to increase by approx $10mm/yr, in 4 years, his salary will only represent about 10% of team payroll. They have cost certainty w nearly all of their best position players. They can certainly afford this risk financially.

          And lastly, no rational fan would argue Masterson gives Pirates a better chance to compete for a title this year.

          • What happened 3-4 years ago isnt meaningless if a team is asking themselves “how effective will Liriano be over the entire contract?” Any team taking a 13-15 AAV risk on Liriano over 3-4 years has to ask itself how confident they are Liriano will A) stay relatively healthy and B) not have 1 absolute stinker of a year. If they are unsure of A and somewhat nervous of B based on his overall body of work, they pass.

            • Scott Kliesen
              December 8, 2014 5:07 pm

              There’s always risk w any signing. I would weigh the risk of Liriano “losing it” in year 4 to what he can bring in year’s 1-3 compared to other FA SP’s.

              To me his upside is greater, and as I said earlier, Pirates are less likely to need a top of rotation SP in ’18 than ’15 w Cole, Taillon and Glasnow all 3 years older.

              • That isn’t actually the risk team are weighing, though.

                Each additional year of a contract compounds the risk of the previous year. For example, there is a given amount of risk that Liriano will regress or get seriously injured in year two. In year three, there is a slightly increased chance Liriano will regress or get seriously injured, PLUS the additional risk carried over due to the consequences of regressing or getting seriously injured in year 2. And so on and so on.

              • Risk in any signing, but clearly greater risk with signing those with a clear history of injury. His upside is great, his downside is bad, the middle can be a darn good pitcher that struggles to throw 160+ innings. PIT loves him at 3 years, likely passes at 4 since they would like to avoid 15 million to him while trying to re sign Cole/Cutch.

                • Scott Kliesen
                  December 9, 2014 8:36 am

                  I won’t be surprised if Pirates balk at giving him 4 years because they are prone to error on side of caution.

                  You bring up valid points about saving money to sign Cole and Cutch. But if both are extended, their new deals won’t start until 2019, the year after a 4 year Liriano deal comes off the books.

      • no. we want a stud. what we need is someone competent to field a rotation spot for at least half a season, hopefully a whole season. we need at least another pitcher in the 3-4 spot, we’d like a #2

      • keep in mind that out of those three pitchers, two of them have outpitched frankie for a half season over the past two years. it might be wise to stop poo-pooing them

      • through 5 innings sure…..

        • Is that a Liriano issue or a pirates issue? Between Cole, Liriano, Volquez and Morton, all averaged between basically 5 2/3 – 6 1/3 innings per start. Seems to me the Pirate way is to error on the side of caution when it comes to pitch count and IP for all of their SP’s.

    • Yea I think Liriano proved otherwise in a 1 game playoff. No way Masterson does that performance.

      • You think 1 game is sufficient to make an evaluation? Liriano has busted starts a fair amount of the time himself. I could maybe take the single game playoff thing as some sort of value if we we’re talking about signing an ace, but Liriano isn’t an ace, snd isn’t guaranteed to pitch in a single game playoff, IF we even play in such a game.

        • Liriano isn’t signing for ACE money either. Compared to Masterson he is an ace. If we get him 3 years @13M it will be a bargain in the baseball world. The guy has been very good in Pittsburgh and we have won with him period!!!

  • I’m not intrigued at all by MCarthy or Santana. If we can’t get Liriano signed I would rather pursue trade options

  • Jason Hammel obviously isn’t quite as good as Liriano, but it’s a good sign that all he got was 2 years, and about $18 mil.

  • Liraino is a big swing & miss guy too. The first element of offense is hitting the ball and Francisco has strike out stuff. His career K9 is 9.2… Meaning 1/3 of the opposing hitters strike out. That is damaging to the other team’s ability to score runs. And his career WHIP is 1.3… That’s a good pitcher.

    Brandon McCarthy has not pitched a lot of innings in the last two seasons and his career whip is 1.29 and his K9 is only 6.3.

    If they can’t get Liriano then they would have to bet McCarthy’s injuries are past him. Either way is good, but you’d be prone to using more depth pitching with McCarthy in the fold and on the DL.
    ——————————————
    “Listen, bub. This is an animated cartoon. And you can’t have an animated cartoon without any SCENERY!!!!”
    -Wabbit

    • It should be noted that McCarthy has evolved a few times, so IMO, career stats aren’t quite as meaningful they would be for most pitchers.

      First, he wanted to stop giving up so many homers, so he adjusted his arsenal to become a GB pitcher sometime around 2008. Still didn’t K many guys from 2008 – 2013. He also basically stopped walking guys in 2010.

      Then last year, he supposedly ramped up his lifting regimen, which could be the reason for the bump in innings pitched, fastball velocity, and strikeouts. If you believe in FIP and xFIP, this might be the last chance to buy a guy who learned how to be a #2 a little later in his career than most because of the new lifting, and a few adjustments he’s made over his career.

      I guess it all really depends on how real a FO thinks the velocity increase is.

      • OY.

        I made a mistake. I went back and looked at Baseball Reference at McCarthy’s stats and mis-read them. I saw he pitched 90 innings in one league and 100 in another last year. Ug. So he’s a proven innings eater….

        Please ignore the ignoramus Wabbit from a couple posts ago.

        -sigh*-

        Anyway, 007, your post got me thinking and I revisited the stats page…looking closely, this guy would be great for us if we whiff on Liriano.

        -BB

        • Does that mean it’s duck season ? Lol

          • Wabbit_Season
            December 8, 2014 2:19 pm

            “Why don’t you go up there and see if he’s still around?”

            “Righto!”

            (BLAM!)

            “Still lurking about…”

            …definitely Duck Season.

            -BB

  • if the Liriano – McCarthy tier is gonna take 4 years, i’d probably rather the buccos stick to the trade route, assuming the 1-year-left-on-contracts crew’s prices aren’t terrible… and they shouldnt be terrible. Just bridge the gap from now to Taillon – and – Kingham – and – maybe – Glasnow readiness.

    Kennedy, Samardzija, Porcello, Price, etc.

    Then again, why do i think 34 year old Liriano and McCarthy will be so bad? i dunno.

    • I don’t think it’s so much that teams believe, or assume, said pitchers will be bad in that fourth year. I think teams know the longer you have a pitcher, the higher the chances he loses significant time to injury.

    • Generally speaking, fans are far – faaaaar – less worried about injury risk and durability than ball clubs, mostly because they aren’t the ones that have to write checks to guys sitting in the trainers room.

    • I think the better question is why does anyone automatically think Kingham will be good?

      Here’s the 2016 rotation as it stands now: Cole, Morton, Kingham, Taillon, Worley/Locke.

      You comfortable going to war with that rotation vs. Cards, Cubs and every other potential playoff contender? I’m not. I need to see Cole realize his promise, Morton stay healthy and actually hang around long enough to win some games, Taillon to be 100%, and Locke… well, I don’t expect any different from what we’ve seen and probably worse.

      Liriano at 3/$40 makes that look a ton better. And come trade deadline 2016, Bucs could probably trade Frankie’s $13 mill salary easier than Morton’s $8 mill.

      Position players appear to be set through 2016. Bucs will need to reconfigure pen in 2016 for certain. But money isn’t an issue in either year. Glasnow is probably the real deal, but he’ll still be a rookie in 2016 and likely have some kid gloves applied.

      • Why dont you think Kingham can be a middle to back rotation arm? You are taking each situation and saying “here is why we might fail” when any team can do that. I can do it with Liriano, you comfortable with him being able to pitch an entire year? Our rotation can be just as solid as the Cards rotation, but baseball is baseball. We may see a rash of injuries while they are healthy, they may see regression while we see a few guys find themselves.

        • Right now I see Kingham being between replacement level and strictly average, no better. Sure, he can get better. But the object of the game is to improve from the previous year, not go backwards.

          Liriano gives the team a better chance of winning than anyone other than Cole. At $13 mill AAV, he’s at minimum even money to pay back contract value and likely better than that. If he’s contributing 1.5-2 WAR at 150 innings, that’s better than the alternatives.

          You don’t turn your back on a quality starter unless you’ve got someone better. And that someone better does not come in a package of Morton/Locke/Worley/Kingham.

          • “Between replacement level and strictly average” would be better than the typical #5 starter. I have no problem letting a promising rookie be a #5 starter.

          • Kingham is 23, so your seeming assumption that he isnt gonna get much better seems to suggest pitchers are what they are by 23 years old.

            As for Liriano, i dont see 13 AAV as where he lands. A team will offer him 15 per year over 3-4 years. Pitching is expensive. You very simply make an argument of Liriano vs. the field, while its more a matter of what you pay for Liriano against what you pay others and the value differential. If Liriano starts between 25-30 games at 155 IPs and brings 2 WAR for 15 million, you get good value. But if the team believes it can get between 1-2 WAR from what they replace Liriano with at half the price, the decision isnt easy. The FO does not think of it as “since Liriano is clearly better, we pay him 2-3 times more without thinking”. Having said all that, at 3 years i see PIT paying what it takes to sign Liriano. They have the salary space and clearly like him.

            • When your team is obviously a contender, you don’t deliberately try to regress. As long as the money is there – and it is as pertains to a Liriano/Tier 2 pitcher – you do what you can to field the best team, not the most cost-effective by WAR value. Billy Beane may be the exception. And if Billy Beane were running this club, Cutch would be on the trading block before he gets to $14 mill per.

              It’s a different scenario when you’re rebuilding/retooling. This year – and hopefully most years from here on out – are not that.

              • This FO will not abandon how they operate because of a fake window people assume is here. They will go after quality options that make fiscal sense. That is Liriano at 3 years and 15 million per or less. They wont simply go after the best option they can get because they need it, that isnt smart for any well run team. This team is obviously a contender, and it got so by making calculated decisions that were based on all the evidence, not just “is this guy good and do we need him”. One thing that is abundantly clear from this FO is they do not care about what people think, they make a move they like.

                • So you were against Liriano for 3/$40 in favor of lesser pitchers, but now you’re for Liriano at 3/$45?

                  Heck, I’m not even going that high.

                  • I was never, if you read my comments, against Liriano for 3 years. I am against Liriano for 4 years. My entire post in regards to you is the notion that they “have” to go get him because he is a great pitcher. Following that framework isnt something the Pirates seem to care about. They value certain guys for specific reasons, not just “this guy is good we gotta pay him.” They have a plan, stick to that plan, and dont apologize for how they operate. Right now, Liriano is very much in that plan for 3 years at market value because they have money to do that.

                    • show me where a 4th year for Liriano is bad for the team. I don’t see where it’s going to have any effect at all. in essence your willing to give up on 3 years of good to great pitching because you MIGHT get one year or below average pitching. Roster wise, that 4th year affects nothing.

                    • Other than payroll in a year where the team gets expensive and key guys are looking to either resign or walk in FA. But yeah, nothing much. The 3 year deal he signed was brilliant.

  • Santana would cost a draft pick, right? So between McCarthy and Liriano, I want the lefty. It’s not a be all, end all, but we could use a southpaw for the next few years with our RH pitching prospects coming up, Locke’s uncertainty, and the big LH bats in our division.

    • I don’t want McCarthy at all. Since Lester is out of reach if they are unable to sign Liriano I’d rather see them build from within. Absent Liriano (who they should sign for 3 years / $40M with limited limitations on trading) I would go with Cole/Burnett/Worley/Locke/Kingham until Morton is ready.

  • The Lester soap opera is getting old. Just sign already.

  • Some team will give him that fourth year, I bet.

    • And if that logic holds for Liriano, I don’t see much reason the agents of the other pitchers Tim listed won’t be pushing for it, either.

      So in reality, if the Pirates aren’t willing to go four years on Liriano, there’s a good chance they aren’t getting any of the 2nd tier guys.

      • NMR: Sounds good to me – Cole, Burnett, Worley, Locke, and Cumpton/Kingham. Charlie Morton by early June, with hopes for Taillon after the AS Break. The Pirates have to get these kids up to the majors and getting the experience they will need to help this franchise. With our attitude about this, we will never have any young pitchers ready to pitch in the majors. At AAA in 2014 Kingham was 5-4, 3.58 ERA, .194 Average Against, 68K/27W in 14 Starts – anybody remember what Cole was at AAA before the Pirates had to get him up? The answer is 5-3, 2.91 ERA, .190 Average Against, 47K/28W in 12 Starts. Based on those numbers I would take Kingham as our No. 5 guy in the Rotation, and possibly our No. 2 or No. 3.

        • Exactly what Emjay said! We are acting like our pitching stinks. Locke and Worley were better pitchers last year than most of the guys we are talking about. We are talking about throwing $50M+ over 4 years to lock out our excellent young prospects. That is how you build a bad team.

          • I feel like we need at least one more. As it stands right now, Cumpton is in your opening day rotation, and depth atm is relying a lot on prospects, and while I like Taillon, Kingham and Sampson, prospects are always an unknown. But, yeah, some $50 mil deal to cover our 2015 (1st half?) shortage seems a bit steep.

          • Sure, why not. Throw away the 2015 season so we can audition some unproven kids. Love the concept.

            • I think we can all spare the theatrics…

              Signing one pitcher will not block all pitching prospects. And failing to sign one pitcher will not throw away the entire season.

            • When do the unproven become proven if they never play?

            • We need to do it otherwise our whole business model is garbage. In order to be successful long term, we have to give jobs to unproven kids just like tampa bay has.

              • At the right time. And your talking about blocking who ? Cumpton ? Maybe Locke ? Worley ? who cares ? It’s not like your blocking anyone important. Taillon, Kingham, and Glasnow WILL have spots when they are ready. Does anyone doubt that ? These other guys ? So what ?

          • or you trade those young pitchers or at least one of them to get the missing pieces you need like a first baseman who can hit lefties or a catcher that can catch and hit for example.

          • without A competent #2 their starting pitching is below average. In order to be successful you have to be abouve AVG. That means getting proven, good, starting pitching. If Taillon or Morton come in and pitch well that makes you that much stronger. But HOPING they do isn’t a smart way to do it. I don’t understand the reluctance about this subject. We’re talking about 1 year and around $15 million dollars. Not that big of a deal in the baseball world, even for the Pirates. It’s not going to upset the apple cart.

        • They need to sign another pitcher. Injuries happen and that’s how Worley and Locke ended up standing out. The same can happen for Kingman too but a injury early to Cole really could crush the Pirates if that’s the rotation.

          • Slow your role on Cole. I agree with most of what you said, but Cole hasn’t proven he is a front line ACE. We need him to be that, and he has the potential. But he hasn’t shown it yet. I’m hoping he hit 30 starts this year.

            • The only one close to that without Liriano.

            • Yeah, i mean the kid has been around for an entire 40 starts! Amazing he hasnt developed into an ace in just over a year in the bigs. Seems everyone needs to cool the jets on the “Cole hasnt proven himself” since he is still very much a young player at this level. Tons of future ace pitchers took 1-2 years to adjust and become dominant.

        • Kingham doesn’t have the stuff Cole has, and will get hit harder than Locke unless he is building up his armstrength and getting 2 mph back on his fastball this offseason

        • No chance in hell of winning this division with a rotation of Cole,Burnett,Worley,Locke,Morton NO CHANCE

      • Exactly. If the Pirates want to find a #2 guy then you have to be willing to do what other teams are in order to get one. You talking about an extra $12 to $ 15 million 4 years from now. Plenty of time to budget that in. And in the mean time you might make a deep run or 2 in the playoffs. Obviously they can’t do that all the time. But in this case when your THAT close to completing your team I say you do it.

  • Ok, if it going to cost that much how about this:
    4 million signing bonus and
    three years at $12 each year.

    Not a penny more than that.

    • He’s gonna get more than 12 mil per. Even if he get 4 years it will be 50 mil +

      • So someone is a soothsayer now? Comeon Freddy! He may, but he may not. I don’t think anyone and i mean ANYONE will give himm 4-50. If there is a 4th year, it will be an option or a significant discount. 3-38 with a 4th year team option at 12 with a 2 million buyout is more likely

  • I think Bucs are correct to focus on Liriano. IMO, the bidding on McCarthy will go above Bucs’ comfort level. They likely have a much better chance at signing Liriano for 3/$40-ish than they will McCarthy. And Santana will want more than that.

    • I prefer Liriano. If the Bucs get in a playoff series he and Cole can be a good one – two punch.

    • I agree but Santana is worth more than that. I’d prefer Santana, if not for the lefty issue, we need frankie cause we need a lefty

  • 3 years, $40M. Get it done, Neal.

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