Francisco Liriano is a guy the D’backs could target this offseason. Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports
Even though the team won only 64 games, the Arizona Diamondbacks probably will not be big players in free agency. With an excess of players both in the infield and outfield and an established catcher, the biggest need for the D’backs is in their starting rotation. While payroll constraints dictate they won’t be a player for a guy like Max Scherzer, there are plenty of mid-range options management could seek. One of those guys is left-hander Francisco Liriano.
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Background: Signed by the Giants as an amateur free agent in 2000, he was traded to the Twins along with Joe Nathan and Boof Bonser for A.J. Pierzynski. He was the talk of the baseball world in 2006 going 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA, finishing third in the Rookie of the Year Award. The left-handed Liriano missed all of 2007 because of Tommy John surgery and after going 6-4 with a 3.91 ERA in 2008, it was mostly downhill until 2013. He did go 14-10 with a 3.62 ERA in 2010 but his ERA in every other season in that time was over 5.00. One highlight was a no-hittter tossed by Liriano on May 3rd, 2011 against the White Sox. He was eventually dealt to the White Sox during the 2012 season. He experienced a revival with the Pirates in 2013, going 16-8 with an ERA of 3.02 in 26 starts.
2014 season: Lirano helped the Pirates qualify for the postseason for the second consecutive season. He was only 7-10 but did sport an ERA of 3.38. His 162 1/3 innings pitched was the second highest total of his career as was his 175 strikeouts. He was hot at the end of the season going 4-0 in five starts, allowing only four earned runs in 31 innings.
Can the D’backs sign him? I wrote earlier this week about how I thought the guy that D’backs might eventually end up with is Jason Hammel. Liriano will almost surely command a contract more than the $6 million dollars he was paid by Pittsburgh in 2014. He will turn 31 on Sunday and is a lefty. That alone may be double last year’s salary. However, if the D’backs can trade someone like Aaron Hill or Cody Ross, then Liriano can be had. Perhaps a deal of three years, $39 million dollars will get it done.