Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Pittsburgh Pirates have reached a deal with left-handed pitcher Francisco Liriano. No word yet if it’s a Major League or minor league deal. The 35-year-old Liriano spent 2018 with the Detroit Tigers, where he made 26 starts and one relief appearance. He had a 4.58 ERA and a 5.11 FIP in 133.2 innings, with 73 walks, 110 strikeouts and a 1.50 WHIP. Liriano pitched for the Pirates from 2013 until late in 2016. Since then he has also pitched for the Toronto Blue Jays and Houston Astros, before joining the Tigers. More on this shortly.
Free-agent left-hander Francisco Liriano in agreement with #Pirates, sources tell The Athletic.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 4, 2019
UPDATE: According to Joel Sherman, it’s a minor league deal:
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) February 4, 2019
UPDATE #2: Robert Murray has the details. Liriano made $4 M last year.
#Pirates' agreement with free-agent pitcher Francisco Liriano is a minor-league deal worth $1.8 million with an additional $1.5 million available in incentives, sources tell The Athletic.
— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) February 4, 2019
Liriano hasn’t pitched well since his success with the Pirates prior to 2016. In his last year with the team, he had a 5.46 ERA and a 5.28 FIP in 21 starts, before being dealt to the Blue Jays. He had a solid September there, but only after pitching poorly for a month in Toronto. That was followed by a rough 2017 season, where he posted a 5.66 ERA and a 1.63 WHIP in 97 innings. You saw the 2018 stats above, which includes his lowest strikeout rate of his career.
He’s likely going to make the team and at this point he could compete for the fifth starter job, but unless the Pirates can help him get back on track again, you shouldn’t expect to see pre-2016 success.
UPDATE: Pirates make the deal official
OFFICIAL: The Pirates today agreed to terms on a minor league contract with LHP Francisco Liriano, which includes an invitation to big league camp.
Welcome back, Frankie! pic.twitter.com/SLkpzYbOGb
— Pirates (@Pirates) February 5, 2019
UPDATE, Tuesday 10:00 AM: Liriano’s deal comes with a pair of options to opt out of the deal. He can opt out on March 20th if he isn’t added to the 40-man roster and June 1st if he isn’t in the majors by then. It doesn’t mean he will opt out if neither one happens, but this gives him the ability to do just that.
Liriano: 1.8M If in majors, 1.5M incentives (on IP and appearances) outs on 3/20, 6/1. #Pirates
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 5, 2019