Francisco Liriano and Other Pitchers Signed

According to reports coming from all corners of the United States, a number of free-agent pitchers have been signed by teams not named the Mets. One of them was a supposed target of the Amazins – Francisco Liriano, who has been inked by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Pirates and Liriano agreed to a two-year, $12.75M deal. Whether or not Liriano would have been a good fit for the Mets is debatable, and I never gave it a thought, knowing full well he’d never fit into the budget. Still, it was funny to read the daydreams of others around the interwebs, citing prominent reasons Liriano would join the Mets — such as, his kinship with fellow countryman and former teammate Johan Santana. Sure, Liriano would run to Flushing to be back with Johan, being completely satisfied with a one-year, $1.2M deal. Some things are much more important than money, after all. Perhaps, sometimes, that’s true, but not in this case.

The amount of money Liriano was able to get speaks volumes to the value of starting pitching, and pitchers in particular, right now. Think about it: how much does the 29-year-old Liriano resemble Oliver Perez at a similar age? Goes to show that the combination of lefthandedness and the ability to throw 93+ MPH outweighs most other aspects of a pitcher’s skill set.

The Astros signed Jose Veras to be their closer. It’s a one-year deal with an option for a second year. The dollars are somewhere in the $2M per year range, not including incentives. The hard-throwing righthander strikes out many batters, walks about half as many. Considering the Astros are going nowhere for the next few years, he’s a fine, inexpensive choice to close out games until a youngster can be auditioned in the role.

Jeremy Bonderman agreed to a minor-league deal with the
Mariners, and he may have a shot to make their rotation. He’s coming off elbow reconstruction surgery and will start throwing in January. I’ve always liked Bonderman and therefore like this gamble by the M’s.

Scott Kazmir also gets a minor-league deal, but with the Cleveland Indians. Many Mets fans, I’m sure, wish the Mets would’ve made a play for the man that brought Victor Zambrano to Flushing. Certainly, they could use more lefthanders, but I’m still not entirely clear on why he fell so quickly and how he’s suddenly throwing 94 MPH again. He’s had some arm issues that I don’t believe were ever addressed via surgery — which could be a good thing or a bad thing. His mechanics were a mess for a while — was that due to an undisclosed injury or something else? Many question marks, but as with Bonderman, worth rolling the dice — especially for a minor-league contract. His upside is higher than, for example, Boof Bonser or Taylor Buchholz. Kazmir, by the way, is still under the age of 30.

Speaking of ex-Mets, Nelson Figueroa signed a minor-league deal with the Diamondbacks. I don’t think the Mets had any interest in bringing him back again, but thought I’d mention it.

We were also on the subject of lefties, and considering that, Tom Gorzelanny signed a two-year deal with the Brewers. He’s transformed himself from a disappointing starter into a reliable reliever — one that is more than just a LOOGY. Another year like 2012 and he’s another Jeremy Affeldt.

Rich Harden also signed a minor-league contract — with the Minnesota Twins. He missed all of 2012 after rotator cuff surgery. Because of his horrendous mechanics, coupled with the fact that all of his effectiveness was tied to velocity, I can’t fault the Mets for staying away. Even if he proves healthy, will he throw more than 88 MPH? And if he’s healthy and throwing over 90, will he be able to do it for longer than a few months? Those were tough questions to answer before the surgery, when he was supposedly healthy.

Former innings-eater Dave Bush returns to North America after a year in Korea, signing a minor-league deal with the Blue Jays. He’ll likely be depth waiting in AAA, or possibly a long man in the big-league bullpen.

Finally, the Tampa Bay Rays very quietly signed Roberto Hernandez. No, not the old reliever the Mets received in return for Xavier Nady at the trade deadline of 2006, but the artist formerly known as Fausto Carmona. The contract is for one year, $3.25M, and includes incentives. Funny, but I think even that is more money than the Mets would be able to gamble on a somewhat risky pitcher like Hernandez / Carmona. And aren’t the Rays even more stingy / broke than the Mets?

No worries, Mets fans, as there are still a few free agent pitchers available on the free agent market to fill out the back of the rotation or provide AAA depth. But for those wondering if LHP Joe Saunders is a possibility, consider this: several baseball officials agree that Saunders is likely to get a deal similar to, or better than, the two-year, $15M contract signed by Joe Blanton. Also consider that the Mets’ original contract extension offer to R.A. Dickey was two years, $16M. Just sayin’.

Should the Mets have signed any of the above pitchers? Why or why not? Post your thoughts in the comments.

12-13 Offseason

About the Author

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.

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