The Pittsburgh Pirates are unexpectedly in the market for a starting pitcher again.
In mid-December, the Pirates agreed to terms with free agent left-hander Francisco Liriano on a two-year, $12.75 million contract. However, the contract was never finalized because Liriano suffered an injury to his non-throwing arm sometime around Christmas.
Pirates general manager Neal Huntington acknowledged that Liriano's injury is holding up a potential deal but declined to go into detail, citing medical privacy laws. Liriano's agent Greg Genske, has not addressed the issue with the media.
Huntington said the Pirates still have interest in signing Liriano and remain in touch with Genske.
The Pirates planned to slot Liriano into the No. 4 spot in the starting rotation behind A.J. Burnett, left-hander Wandy Rodriguez and right-hander James McDonald while allowing two young pitchers, left-hander Jeff Locke and rookie right-hander Kyle McPherson, to compete for the No. 5 job.
While the Pirates continue to attempt to sign Liriano, they are also considering other free agent pitchers. The top starters remaining on the open market are right-handers Kyle Lohse and Shaun Marcum and left-hander Joe Saunders.
Lohse and Marcum are likely out of the Pirates' price range, but Pittsburgh is said to have interest in Saunders after trying to trade for him last season before the Arizona Diamondbacks dealt him to the Baltimore Orioles. The 31-year-old was 9-13 with a 4.07 ERA in 31 starts in 2012, and he won the inaugural American League wild-card game for Orioles, beating the Texas Rangers.