By Michael Sanserino
The Pirates and left-handed pitcher Francisco Liriano are close to a two-year contract, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.
The deal, first reported by LaVelle Neal of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, likely will not become official until after Christmas as most of the league is on vacation for the holiday.
Liriano, 29, spent most of his career with the Minnesota Twins, where he was an All-Star and finished third in rookie of the year voting in 2006. He underwent Tommy John surgery after that season.
He has struggled with his command the past two seasons, as his strikeout-to-walk ratio decreased from 3.47 in 2010 to 1.49 in 2011 and 1.92 in 2012. He finished with an ERA above 5.00 in three of the past four seasons.
He is still a strong strikeout pitcher, who averaged 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings last season. And his potential made him a popular free agent among teams in search of left-handed pitching. After trading him away in July, the Twins had sought to bring him back.
Prior to facing Liriano in a game against the Twins this June, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said, "he's fighting his way back. He has the history of being an elite pitcher in the league."
He spent part of the 2012 season in the bullpen before moving back into the Twins' rotation. He was traded to the Chicago White Sox midway through the season.
Michael Sanserino: firstname.lastname@example.org , 412-263-1722 or on Twitter @msanserino.