Sep 22, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Francisco Liriano (47) pitches in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
The Pittsburgh Pirates did the smartest thing the coins do during the MLB winter meeting by signing free agent starting pitcher Francisco Liriano to a three-year $39 million deal on Tuesday.
This deal not only makes sense financially as the Bucs had $15 million to play with during free agency but it makes the starting rotation the deepest in the National League Central and right up in the ranks with nearly every other NL contender. The Pirates’ two main deals so far have added the pitching they wanted to get and they did it by not spending too much. By getting Liriano back the Pirates can him and A.J. Burnett as the No. 2 and No. 3 starters behind ace Gerrit Cole. Jeff Locke and Vance Worley will round out the rotation nicely. Assuming Charlie Morton is 100 percent healthy, he can be dealt to acquire a position player or reliever.
The Pirates, on paper, look like they will once again compete for the division and while the St. Louis Cardinals added Jason Heyward, they had to shed Shelby Miller to do so.
Other NL contenders have not done anything too significant to widen any gaps. The San Francisco Giants lost Pablo Sandoval and the Los Angeles Dodgers did not retain Hanley Ramirez.
The Pirates offense seems to be a rocket just getting ready to blast off with Andrew McCutchen getting to his prime, Neil Walker coming off a career year and Josh Harrison turning into a premiere player. Fans also are expecting great things from Gregory Polanco and if Starling Marte comes close last season, runs will not be an issue.
There is plenty of time for all of this to change with the rest of the winter meetings to go, but as of right now the Pirates are in prime position to compete for the NL pennant and the 2015 World Series title.