Old friend alert!
According to Rob Longley, the Blue Jays have inked pitcher Francisco Liriano to a minor-league deal with an invite to spring training.
#Bluejays have just agreed to terms with LHP Francisco Liriano, per source. Will be a non roster invitee to training camp.
— Rob Longley (@longleysunsport) February 3, 2021
That’s right, Francisco Liriano is BACK. Party like it’s 2016!
As you’ll remember, the Jays acquired Liriano from the Pirates as a money-dump in 2016 to give the team some pitching depth during their playoff pitch. Liriano ended up pitching really well for the team and earned the W in the Blue Jays’ win over the Orioles in the Wild Card game.
He wasn’t quite as good in 2017, but the Jays managed to flip him to Houston in exchange for Teoscar Hernandez. Liriano would end up winning a World Series with the Astros.
Liriano didn’t pitch in 2020, but posted a 3.47 ERA over 70 innings (all in relief) with the Pirates in 2019 with 63 strikeouts and 35 walks.
So, what’s going on here?
The Blue Jays don’t have many options for lefty pitching on their roster. Robbie Ray and Steven Matz are likely starting, same with Anthony Kay in Triple-A. So that leaves Ryan Borucki as pretty much the guy when it comes to left-handed arms out of the ‘pen.
I would assume adding Liriano is about giving the team some veteran depth and a lefty insurance option in case of injury. We saw that with Marc Rzepczynski last year and he never played a game for the team.