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.
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.
Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.
Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.