Details of Francisco Liriano’s contract with the Pirates

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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.

James Paxton will “nerd out big-time” to stay healthy next year

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To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.

So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”

When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.

Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.