Francisco Liriano expected to sign with the Pirates

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Francisco Liriano has agreed to a two-year, $14 million contract with the Pirates, according to LaVelle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Liriano was briefly booted from Minnesota’s rotation in May after posting a 9.45 ERA through six starts and then put together a fantastic two-month stretch upon rejoining the rotation, throwing 66 innings with a 3.68 ERA and 79/29 K/BB ratio before the Twins traded him to the White Sox for a pair of non-prospects in late July.

Liriano was mostly sub par in Chicago, posting a 5.40 ERA in 57 innings, and finished the year with a 5.34 ERA in 157 total frames. However, he racked up 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings and, as always, if someone can get Liriano to throw strikes consistently and trust his raw stuff the 29-year-old left-hander still has plenty of upside.

MRI reveals rib inflammation for Anthony Rizzo

Anthony Rizzo rib inflammation
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Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo underwent an MRI on Tuesday that revealed rib inflammation on his left side, Maddie Lee of NBC Sports Chicago reports. Rizzo has been dealing with back soreness for the last week and has missed several intrasquad games as a result.

Rizzo is unsure if he can avoid opening the regular season on the injured list. He said, “I’ll do everything I can to stay off of it, obviously. … Every game’s important. So, we’ve got to get off to a good start and hopefully I’m out there with the guys. I plan on it, but you can’t control it and you’ve got to be smart.”

Rizzo, who turns 31 years old next month, is coming off of another highly productive season in which he hit .293/.405/.520 with 27 home runs, 94 RBI, and 89 runs scored over 613 plate appearances. In the event he needs to open the season on the IL, Victor Caratini figures to get the first crack at handling first base.

The Cubs missed the playoffs last year for the first time since 2014, finishing in third place with a 84-78 record. Rizzo, no doubt, will play a big role if the Cubs are to find themselves back in the postseason.