Back on December 21st, we heard that the Pittsburgh Pirates agreed on a two-year deal with left-handed pitcher Francisco Liriano. After a long delay, it was reported that Liriano hurt his right arm after the agreement, which was holding up the deal. Later it was learned that Liriano broke his humerus, apparently in a fall in the bathroom.
The Pirates and Liriano reportedly agreed to a revised deal on January 21st. The new agreement would alter Liriano’s salary if he missed any time with the right arm injury. It’s been a little over a week since that took place, and the deal still hasn’t become official. Tom Singer reported that he could be coming in on a minor league deal, which would make it easy to adjust his salary based on time missed. The Pirates would only have to pay Liriano based on his time on the 40-man roster. For example, if he missed a month, then was added to the 40-man in May, he would only receive a pro-rated salary for his time from May to the end of the season.
The Sports Xchange, a news wire service that provides news to various outlets, has an update on Liriano. I’ve seen the exact same story in several newspapers in search results, but first noticed it today in Yahoo. The latest holdup, according to the report, is on that minor league deal.
The holdup now appears to be that the Pirates want to sign Liriano to a minor league deal with an invitation to major league spring training and a legitimate chance to make the rotation. However, Liriano is said to at least want one guaranteed year with an option for 2014.
This is a very unique situation, and because of that, it’s very messy. If Liriano agreed to a minor league deal, that would make it possible to reduce his pay based on time he missed from the injury. However, I’m not sure that you can do a two-year minor league deal, and a minor league deal definitely doesn’t guarantee any salary.
The article goes on to say that the Pirates don’t want to give any guaranteed money, since their doctors don’t think Liriano would be ready to start the season on time. It also said they would be comfortable walking away from the deal and going with Jeff Locke or Kyle McPherson, with the rest of the rotation made up of A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez, James McDonald, and Jeff Karstens.
Based on everything we’ve heard, it seems the Pirates are still willing to give Liriano the original deal. However, it also appears they don’t want to start guaranteeing him money until he’s fully recovered from the injury. Because of the way baseball contracts work, I don’t think that there’s a way to make that happen without a minor league deal, which doesn’t guarantee any money.