Francisco Liriano originally agreed to a two-year, $12.75 million contract with the Pirates in December, but the two sides went back to the negotiating table after he broke his right (non-throwing) arm in a bathroom fall. The deal was finalized yesterday as a one-year, $1 million contract with a vesting option for 2014, but now that we have the details of the adjusted deal, it’s easier to understand why it took so long to negotiate.
Per Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Liriano can earn as much as $4.75 million this season based on the disabled list due to his arm injury. According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the option for 2014 can vest at $5 million, $6 million or $8 million depending on days spent on the disabled list in 2013. If the deal vests at either $5 million or $6 million, he can make up the difference between the vesting salary and the full $8 million based on games started in 2014. Got all that? Good.
Liriano, 29, compiled a 5.34 ERA and 167/87 K/BB ratio over 156 2/3 innings last season between the Twins and White Sox. If healthy, the southpaw is projected to be in Pittsburgh’s rotation alongside A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez, James McDonald and Jeff Karstens.
The Dodgers have pulled off their first blockbuster trade of the offseason, sending Brandon McCarthy, Scott Kazmir, Charlie Culberson, Adrian Gonzalez and cash considerations to the Braves for Matt Kemp, per announcements from both teams. The Braves are set to designate Gonzalez for assignment on Monday, making him a free agent.
Kemp, 33, had a down year with the Braves in 2017, hitting a career-low -0.5 fWAR in 115 games with the club. At the plate, he slashed a modest .276/.318/.463 with 19 home runs and a .781 OPS through 467 plate appearances, but was hampered by a nagging left hamstring strain through most of the season. This will be his 10th campaign with the Dodgers.
Whether or not Kemp can rebound during his second stint in Los Angeles is almost beside the point, however. The deal is effectively a salary dump to end all salary dumps. Offloading multiple one-year contracts for McCarthy, Kazmir and Gonzalez should bring the Dodgers back under the $197 million luxury tax threshold and position them to make a run at some of the big fish in next year’s free agent pool. It’s also worth noting that they may not keep Kemp around for long — per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, the club appears as likely to flip the veteran outfielder as they are to use him. As for the Braves, they not only rid themselves of the $43 million due Kemp through 2020, but added some rotation and infield depth with McCarthy and Culberson and can now give top prospect Ronald Acuna a legitimate tryout in left field.