Pittsburgh has done great work recently turning around the careers of pitchers, grabbing guys like Francisco Liriano, Vance Worley, and Edinson Volquez off the scrap heap and getting tremendous value out of them at low costs.
Now the Pirates will try to do the same with Radhames Liz, a one-time Orioles top prospect who left MLB for Korea after posting a 7.50 ERA in 110 innings from 2007-2009.
Liz spent three seasons pitching in Korea, posting a 3.57 ERA, and then returned to America at Double-A and Triple-A for the Blue Jays this season. He pitched pretty well with a 2.95 ERA in 12 starts, but his 44/24 K/BB ratio in 61 innings was nothing special.
He throws hard and the Pirates think enough of Liz’s upside at age 31 that they gave him a big-league contract with a spot on the 40-man roster.
Liz was the No. 69 prospect on Baseball America’s top-100 list for 2008, three spots behind Max Scherzer and two spots behind Chris Tillman.
Another big free agent domino has fallen at the Winter Meetings in San Diego. Third baseman Anthony Rendon is signing with the Angels on seven-year, $245 million contract, per Jon Heyman.
Rendon, 29, was the top free agent position player. He’s coming off of a season in which he helped the Nationals win their first championship, batting .319/.412/.598 with a league-high 126 RBI and an NL-best 44 doubles along with 34 home runs and 117 runs scored in 646 plate appearances. Rendon also continued to play solid defense at third base. During the postseason, Rendon hit .328/.412/.590 with seven doubles, three homers, 15 RBI, and 11 runs scored in 75 trips to the plate.
The Angels badly needed to make a big free agent splash this offseason, and third base was as good a place as any to do it. Rendon will now slot easily into the middle of the Angels’ lineup along with Mike Trout. It remains to be seen if the Angels are done making moves, but they could use a corner outfielder and another starting pitcher.
Humorously, Rendon has said he’d like to retire by age 35, as Jesse Daugherty of the Washington Post alluded to on the Nationals Talk Podcast. This contract will take him through his age-36 season.