In a surprsing move, the Blue Jays have acquired LHP Francisco Liriano from the Pittsburgh Pirates. The 32-year old left-hander has struggled to a 5.46 ERA this year, but was one of the better pitchers in the league from 2013-2015. He's also controllable for next season, but is scheduled to earn $13 million. It appears as though Drew Hutchison will be headed the other way, but there seems to be multiple pieces involved.
Liriano's struggles have been largely due to command problems, as he carries the highest walk rate in the majors among qualified starters. He continues to rack up his fair share of strikeouts, and is usually very tough to hit. This trade is similar to the Joaquin Benoit deal, as the Jays get a former standout pitcher that has struggled with control this year.
There is a ton of upside here, but plenty of risk if Liriano hurts the Blue Jays down the stretch. Let's hope that a reunion with Russell Martin can help Liriano get back on track.
Liriano’s ERA w/ Russell Martin Catching: 2.92— Matt Gwin (@Matt_Gwin) August 1, 2016
Liriano’s ERA w/ All Other Catchers: 4.28
Update: Both prospects the Blue Jays are receiving are now known: OF Harold Ramirez, and C Reese McGuire.
Ramirez is a 21-year old outfielder who was ranked as the Pirates 9th best prospect by MLB.com. He's currently hitting .312 in AA this year, but only has two home runs in 407 plate appearances. His calling card is his strong contact skills, as he also hit over .300 in 2014 and 2015. He's played mostly in centre field this season, but likely ends up as a corner outfielder as a professional.
McGuire, also 21, is a defensive minded catcher who was ranked as the Pirates 8th best prospect by MLB.com. He was the 14th pick of the 2013 MLB draft, but has struggled offensively as a pro. He's posted .267/.337/.348 in AA this year, but has a higher walk rate than strikeout rate. He's shown very little power to date, but terrific defence could more than make up for that.
Source: Blue Jays get Liriano from Pirates— Robert Murray (@RobertMurrayFRS) August 1, 2016
Source: Drew Hutchison going to #Pirates in Liriano trade.— (((Gideon Turk))) (@GideonTurk) August 1, 2016
Also: Harold Ramirez AA OF to Toronto with Liriano— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) August 1, 2016
Blue Jays confirm they've acquired Francisco Liriano, catcher Reese McGuire & outfielder Harold Ramirez from the Pirates for Drew Hutchison.— Arden Zwelling (@ArdenZwelling) August 1, 2016