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Francisco Liriano signing: Experts react on Pirates' big gamble

In a surprise move, the Pirates signed Francisco Liriano to a two-year deal worth $14 million.

Jonathan Daniel

Baseball experts expressed mixed reactions following the Pittsburgh Pirates' signing of left-handed pitcher Francisco Liriano to a two-year contract worth $14 million. In his six seasons, the 29-year-old has showed immense potential at times, but struggled greatly at others.

For Pat Lackey, cases for and against Liriano are equally convincing:

Liriano's still got a great arm (his average fastball last year was 93 mph) and when he's good he keeps the ball on the ground a ton (career GB%: 47.5%)...On the flip side, Liriano's had two good years in his entire career. He's struggled with control recently, he's never topped 200 innings, and $14 million isn't expensive for what his ceiling represents, but it's incredibly expensive for a team like the Pirates if he turns out to be a total bust.

Lackey also points out that PNC Park could be a great fit for Liriano. The signing is a substantial gamble for Pittsburgh, but if Liriano reaches his potential, it could be extremely beneficial for both parties.

Here's what Keith Law had to say:

Liriano has struggled with consistency and durability following Tommy John surgery in 2007. The $7 million-per-year average salary is a $1.5 million raise compared to the $5.5 million he made in 2012.

Aaron Gleeman managed to find upside in Liriano's 2012 statistics, even though the year was mostly a disappointment. Despite his 5.34 ERA and 1.49 WHIP, Liriano still sported a 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings rate last season. If he had pitched enough innings to qualify, that mark would have been third-best in the majors. Gleeman writes:

As always, if someone can get Liriano to throw strikes consistently and trust his raw stuff the 29-year-old left-hander still has plenty of upside.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.