Free agent left-hander Francisco Liriano has agreed to new terms with the Pirates, necessary after an injury to his non-throwing arm disrupted the original contract negotiations, according to a report Monday from Fox Sports.
Liriano and the Pirates were close to agreeing to terms on a two-year, $12.75 million contract in late December, but a broken right arm suffered before Liriano took a physical slowed the process.
The deal may take some time before becoming official.
According to Fox Sports, Liriano can still make all the money owed him on the original contract if the arm injury does not force him to miss any time in 2013, but his salary this season could shrink if he does miss time due to the arm injury.
If Liriano, 29, passes his physical and the deal becomes official, he will join a rotation featuring A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez, James McDonald and Jeff Karstens. The signing would likely force Jeff Locke and Kyle McPherson to start the season at Class AAA Indianapolis.
The signing may also stretch the Pirates' payroll. The team currently has $63.7 million committed to 12 players in 2013, though $13.5 million of that will come from the New York Yankees for Burnett and the Houston Astros for Rodriguez. Arbitration salaries for McDonald and Neil Walker, the minimum salaries of at least $490,000 for the final 11 players on the active roster and the rest of the 40-man roster bring the projected opening-day payroll to roughly $76.5 million.
Though Liriano's 2013 salary is not known, adding a couple million dollars to the payroll would increase it to close to $80 million -- $67 million of which the Pirates will pay.
The $4.5 million the Pirates will pay Garrett Jones in his second of four years of arbitration, in addition to the first base and right field options the Pirates added over the winter, make it possible that the Pirates could trade Jones, though indications are that they aren't inclined to do so.
Adding Liriano provides the Pirates with solid starting pitching depth. In addition to Locke and McPherson, Charlie Morton is on track to return from Tommy John ligament replacement surgery in June or July, and top prospect Gerrit Cole, who will start the season at Indianapolis, could make his debut in the second half of 2013 if all goes well.
Bill Brink: firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @BrinkPG. First Published January 21, 2013 10:30 PM