UPDATE: According to Tom Singer of MLB.com, Liriano will only be guaranteed $1 million. He could make an additional $11.75 million if he reaches certain bonuses and has his option vest for 2014. That was quite a costly fall.
10:48 PM: The Pirates just officially announced the deal. Liriano will get a one-year contract with a vesting option for 2014, so it appears he will have to prove his health this season in order to receive the money he was originally in line to get prior to breaking his arm.
2:48 PM: Francisco Liriano agreed to a two-year, $12.75 million deal with the Pirates back mid-December, but the signing was put on hold and potentially put in jeopardy when Liriano broke his non-throwing arm in a bathroom fall.
There was talk of the Pirates re-working some of the language in the contract and even some speculation that they might back out of the deal completely, but Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the two sides have finalized things six weeks later.
Liriano has had an ERA above 5.00 in back-to-back seasons and infuriated the Twins and White Sox with his inability to throw strikes, but he’s also still just 29 years old with good fastball velocity, a devastating slider, and 480 strikeouts in 483 innings since 2010.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.
According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.
There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.
Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.