Rumors

Francisco Liriano has cleared waivers and could help the Phillies



Liriano is a veteran southpaw with recent postseason experience who could be a valuable match-up bullpen lefty and emergency starter.

There is a great deal of warranted interest and excitement every year around the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline in Major League Baseball. Teams can deal away players up until 4:00PM EDT on that date without first subjecting them to the waiver wire.

Once that deadline passes it doesn’t mean that trades cannot be made. After that point players can still be dealt. However, they must first pass through waivers.

Non-contending teams frequently will put a player they are interested in dealing on waivers during the month of August. Each of the other 29 clubs in MLB have an opportunity to make a claim in reverse order of the current standings.

If no one claims the player, he enters into a status of having “cleared waivers” and he can then be traded. If the player is claimed, the team who waived him can let him go to the claiming team, can pull him back, or can work out a trade with the claiming team.

It happens every year that some players are dealt in this manner. Phillies fans may remember that a couple of the 2008 World Series heroes, Chase Utley in 2015 and Carlos Ruiz in 2016, were each dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers during the month of August.

Phillies general manager Matt Klentak has already moved once this month to help strengthen his club. The Phillies GM obtained Justin Bour on August 10 from the Miami Marlins in exchange for prospect pitcher McKenzie Mills.

Phillies already made one August move this year, adding Bour’s veteran lefty bat.

There is another player out there who has apparently cleared waivers who could also help the Phillies, and who might come at a similarly reasonable cost.

Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors has reported that veteran left-handed pitcher Francisco Liriano of the Detroit Tigers as cleared waivers. Adams describes the value that Liriano could bring to a team such as the Phillies:

“…he’s held left-handed pitching to a terrible .141/.247/.239 slash through 81 plate appearances. With $984K still owed to him through the end of the year, he’d be a reasonably affordable lefty specialist for a contending team’s bullpen.”

Liriano is a 34-year-old now in his 13th big league season. He was originally signed as a teenager by the Minnesota Twins, and broke in with the Twins in the 2005 season.

In his first full season with Minnesota in 2006, Liriano went 12-3 with a 144/23 K:BB ratio over 121 innings in 28 games, 16 of those as a starter. He made the American League all-star team and finished third in the AL Rookie of the Year voting.

He would go on to have big years with the Twins in 2010 when he finished 11th in the AL Cy Young Award voting, and then in 2013 when he finished 9th in the NL Cy Young voting as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

At the July 31, 2017 non-waiver deadline, Liriano was dealt from the Toronto Blue Jays to the Houston Astros. A member of the Jays rotation, Liriano became a lefty specialist with the Astros, making 20 appearances out of the bullpen for manager A.J. Hinch and helping the team nail down the AL West Division crown.

During the postseason he tossed 2.1 innings over five total appearances across the ALDS, ALCS, and the World Series, helping Houston win its first ever championship. He allowed one run, a homer to Rafael Devers of the Boston Red Sox in Game Three of that American League Division Series at Fenway Park.

Liriano signed with the Tigers as a free agent just prior to spring training opening back at the end of February. Pitching mostly as a member of the Detroit starting rotation he has compiled a 3-8 record, allowing just 89 hits across 97.1 innings. He flirted with no-hitters twice this season.

However, Liriano has experienced problems with his command and control. Those struggles have resulted in 58 walks, an unsightly 5.4 per nine innings. With his FIP mark at 5.63 compared to a 4.72 ERA, it could be argued that Liriano has pitched even worse than his overall poor numbers would suggest.

What we are talking about here is the ability to add a veteran left-hander with a history of prior success. One who has pitched deep into the postseason as recently as a year ago for a world championship team.

It’s all about price. He’s not owed very much in salary for the balance of this season. There is no commitment beyond this year. If you can get him for a song, which you may be able to, it certainly seems worth looking into by the Phillies.

Klentak has worked over the last three weeks to bring in veterans to help this surprising contender. Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and catcher Wilson Ramos at the non-waiver deadline, Bour after it passed. Liriano would be that same type of short-term, inexpensive move.

Both Aaron Loup and Austin Davis are on the disabled list. Right now, Adam Morgan is the lone left-hander in the Phillies bullpen. Unless there is some personal, medical, or other issue with Liriano that doesn’t appear on the surface, then if I’m Klentak, I’m on the phone with Tigers GM Al Avila today.

 

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