The Detroit Tigers have added some extra pitching depth to their roster in the form of left-handed pitcher Francisco Liriano, according to Robert Murray from FanRag Sports. Liriano will receive a one-year deal for $4 million, with an additional $1 million in incentives. The club has confirmed the transaction.
Liriano has played with five different clubs, though Tigers fans will remember him best for his seven year stint with the Minnesota Twins, where he achieved All-Star status in 2006. Tigers fans may also remember the close race he and Justin Verlander shared for Rookie of the Year voting, though Verlander ultimately walked away with the award after Liriano suffered an injury. Liriano also spent time with the Chicago White Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Toronto Blues Jays. He has a career ERA of 4.15, a 3.75 FIP, and a 1.35 WHIP over 12 seasons in the majors.
Liriano has spent the bulk of his career as a starting pitcher. It seems likely this is the role he would fill for the Tigers, but during the latter half of the 2017 season he was a relief pitcher for the World Series-winning Houston Astros. While his 4.40 ERA with the Astros wasn’t pretty and some of his peripheral statistics were even worse, he held lefties to hitting just .247/.300/.355 for the season.
Should he not be used as a fifth starter for the team, his recent experience in relief would make him a good addition to the bullpen. He has always been very tough on left-handed hitters, and could also be used in a lefty specialist role or as a long reliever.
The Tigers are likely hoping for more, though. Liriano has shown flashes of his old self recently, and was traded last July for Teoscar Hernandez, a promising prospect in the Astros system.
To make room for Liriano on the 40-man roster, the Tigers designated left-handed reliever Jairo Labourt for assignment. Labourt made his major league debut in 2017, but walked seven batters in six innings while allowing a 4.50 ERA. Still, it was a successful season for Labourt, who worked his way up from High-A thanks to drastically improved command. He managed a 2.17 ERA with 79 strikeouts to 33 walks in 66 1⁄3 minor league innings. He is our No. 16 ranked Tigers prospect for 2018.