The Kansas City Royals are looking to fortify their pitching staff, and Francisco Liriano is now on their radar.
After a bad April, the Kansas City Royals have rallied to a 52-47 record entering Wednesday’s action. They hold the second wild card spot in the American League, and are just 1.5 games out in the AL Central. They are trade deadline buyers, and Bob Nightengale of USA Today is reporting the Royals are in talks with the Toronto Blue Jays regarding Francisco Liriano.
Liriano has a had a rough 2017 thus far, with a 5.99 ERA, a 1.67 WHIP, a 8.2 K/9 rate and a 4.9 BB/9 rate over 17 starts (76.2 innings). But he’s left-handed, in the final year of his contract and he pitched well immediately after the Blue Jays acquired him in 2016 (2.92 ERA, 7.7K/9, 1.3 BB/9 in 10 appearances). From 2013-2015 with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Liriano had the best sustained stretch of his career with a 3.26 ERA (3.23 FIP), a 9.6 K/9 and a 3.8 BB/9 over 86 starts.
The Royals recently added starter Trevor Cahill and two relievers (Brandon Maurer and Ryan Buchter) in a trade with the San Diego Padres. Making a move for Liriano should not require giving up a top prospect, even if Kansas City had much ability to do so.
If he can somewhat harness long-standing control issues and reverse a career-low swing strike rate (9.7 percent this season), Liriano is a clear buy-low option compared to other available starters on the trade market. The Royals don’t really seem to be in on Sonny Gray, Yu Darvish and other big names, so second-tier options like Cahill and Liriano become more realistic targets.
The Royals have a lot of key players in the final year of their contract, and now they’re in prime position to go all-in for one last run with core group. Liriano is a nice fit in that regard, and a low-risk acquisition if it gets done.