The Pirates have some decisions to make this offseason and it’s not just for Russell Martin. Starters Francisco Liriano and Edinson Volquez are both free agents along with backup shortstop Clint Barmes.
For Volquez and Liriano, this season aided their profiles as both came in to Pittsburgh — the island of misfit pitchers — with poor numbers and mechanical issues while they will go back on the market as renewed back-of-rotation starters thanks to the tutelage of Ray Searage and the organization’s pitching instructors.
Liriano came into the Steel City two years ago coming off of two consecutive seasons of having an ERA above five while allowing baserunners at an alarming rate. The same could be said for Volquez as he arrived in Pittsburgh last offseason after leading the league in earned runs allowed (108) last year and walks (105) the year before.
This allowed the Pirates to sign both to small contracts while getting triple the return out of them as Liriano recovered from an injury early in the season to post a 3.38 ERA while going 4-0 in five September starts. Volquez will be a N.L. Comeback Player-of-the-Year candidate as he was the only Pirates starter to go a full season while being the most consistent — prior to the Wild Card game — with a 3.04 ERA and a 13-7 record in 31 starts.
Both will be looking around the $10-12 million per year range come this offseason and with the Pirates top priority being the possible record contract with Russell Martin, the team wouldn’t be able to keep both starters.
The Pirates could give Liriano a qualifying offer to ensure a draft pick, at least, if he weren’t willing to stay for a one-year deal. Volquez could be an easier target as he has said that staying in Pittsburgh wouldn’t be so bad. Although, the team may have to offer him long-term contract and not the normal two-year deal we are used to seeing.
“Why not?” said Volquez. “I would like to. I’ve gotta wait to see what happens.”
It’s too early to make any assumptions on how these two will go, but chances are slim that both will be back in Pittsburgh next season.
Clint Barmes was brought back for a one-year deal to backup Jordy Mercer and continue to tutor him at shortstop. Mercer showed much improvement this season debunking any questions of his ability at the position.
It wouldn’t be a shock if he was brought back for another one-year deal to backup middle infielders Mercer and Neil Walker.
Other Offseason Transactions
— The Pirates acquired RHP Preston Guilmet from the Orioles for cash considerations.
— The Pirates DFA’d OF Jose Tabata. He has accepted the assignment and has been sent to AAA Indianapolis instead of becoming a free agent.
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