There was talk at the trade deadline about Francisco Liriano joining the Kansas City Royals. It didn’t happen, as the veteran left-hander instead went to Houston from Toronto. Liriano couldn’t be happier with the move since it netted him a first World Series ring. Hopefully, the Royals don’t view the deadline as a missed opportunity.
For almost the entirety of his career, Liriano has been a starting pitcher. Prior to 2017, he had made a grand total of 29 relief appearances. After his trade to the Astros, he made 20 appearances — all out of the bullpen. Liriano made an additional five relief appearances in the postseason. With a 4.41 ERA over 14 1/3 innings pitched in the regular season, the decision for Houston to bring him in didn’t go as planned.
Liriano’s struggles are one reason the Astros appear to be targeting left-handed reliever options, including Mike Minor. It’s possible the Kansas City Royals could see the same thing — or rather opposite thing. Given the team’s recent track record with turning starters into effective relievers, the organization could see Liriano as another quality reclamation project of sorts.
He doesn’t exactly fit the profile, though. For one thing, Liriano just turned 34 years old. Hardly an ideal time to teach an old dog new tricks. Plus, his 2017 splits show he can no longer effectively get right-handed hitters out. At best, Liriano would be a specialist. And while the Royals are set to lose Minor, the team still has at least one solid left-handed option in Scott Alexander.
The other worry with signing Liriano is that Moore could see him as a Vargas replacement in the back-end of the rotation. Neither move is a particularly smart one.