UPDATE 3:30 PM: A source outside of the Pirates’ organization, who is currently in the Dominican Republic, says that there are no mixed reports down there about the Pirates signing Liz. Every report out of the Dominican Republic has Liz signing with the Pirates. I also received word from a reliable source that he is flying into Pittsburgh tonight, so the possible reason we aren’t hearing confirmation is that the contract is just agreed on and possibly the signing/physical is keeping it from being official.
For what it’s worth, FOX Sports has the deal listed as a minor league deal on their transaction page and that it’s official. Liz reportedly turned down a 2/3M contract out of Japan and a contract from Korea that could have paid as much as $2.2M for one year if he reached all the incentives. Plus we heard that a total of 11 teams from three countries were showing interest, so the dollar amount for the deal makes sense. This obviously isn’t the same pitcher that struggled for three seasons in Baltimore.
UPDATE 11:45 AM: A couple more notes while we wait for confirmation. There are multiple new reports out of the Dominican claiming he is signing with the Pirates. One pointed out that the Pirates just signed Gustavo Nunez from the same winter league team yesterday. Liz has been scratched from his start tonight. Word is that 11 teams from three different countries were showing interesting, including at least three major league teams. The Diamondbacks were one of the teams mentioned.
UPDATE 9:35 AM Wednesday: C.J. Nitkowski, who originally reported that Liz had offers to pitch in Korea, is now saying that he won’t be signing in Korea and that he has “secured a deal with an NL team”. Still no confirmation on the deal.
UPDATE 11:43 PM: From Tim Williams…
I just heard back from a high ranking official in the Pirates’ organization about the report out of Korea on Liz. The response I got was a simple “I would not run with that.” So for now, it appears the report is incorrect. It’s unclear at the moment whether this means the report is completely false (aka, no interest in Liz at all), or if something specific is incorrect (terms, maybe it’s not official, etc).
There’s also a report out of the Dominican Republic confirming the original report, and saying that Rene Gayo saw Liz throwing 95-96 MPH. To recap, two reporters from two different countries are reporting the deal. One reporter has had good info on Liz before. The other has info that Rene Gayo scouted Liz. No confirmation from the organization, but not exactly a denial either. This one remains one to watch.
11:19 PM: A credible source out of Korea is reporting that the Pittsburgh Pirates have signed 31-year-old right-handed pitcher Radhames Liz for two years/$3M. Liz had hit 100 MPH in the past, so he is a big arm, but he hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2009. He reportedly had offers this off-season in Japan for over $1M for one season and three MLB teams were showing interest. Liz spent part of 2014 in the minors with the Toronto Blue Jays. He is currently in the Dominican Republic pitching winter ball, where he has a 1.90 ERA, 29 strikeouts and a .195 BAA in 23.2 innings. More on this shortly as we are working to confirm it.