The Royals and Blue Jays are “making progress” on a trade that would send left-handed pitcher Francisco Liriano to Kansas City, according to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports. MLB.com reporter Jeffrey Flanagan reports the Royals have scouted his last two starts. The 34-year old Blue Jays starting pitcher has struggled mightily in the last year of his three-year, $39 million deal, with a 5.99 ERA and 4.90 FIP but was very good as recently as 2015 when he was a 3.6 WAR pitcher, according to Fangraphs, posting a 3.38 ERA and 3.19 FIP.
Liriano can miss bats and the Royals may see him as a “sixth man” in the rotation, ready to step in if there is an injury or anyone else is ineffective. The Royals don’t need another lefty in the pen with Mike Minor and Scott Alexander already pitching well, and Brian Flynn and Richard Lovelady ready in the minors. But Liriano could serve as a long-man and work out any mechanical issues with Dave Eiland before stepping back into a starting role. The Royals could also see newly acquired Trevor Cahill as more of a bullpen option, preferring to add another lefty in the rotation. Liriano’s numbers are poor, but they could see him as a good “buy low” option that could turn things around.
Because his numbers are so poor, it shouldn’t take a lot to get Liriano. Morosi says other teams are interested, but it shouldn’t take even good prospects to get Liriano, as long as the Royals are willing to pay most of the $4 million or so owed to him this year. SB Nation reporter Chris Cotillo opines that the Jays may be interested in bringing back pitcher Glenn Sparkman, who they selected from the Royals in the Rule 5 draft last winter, but returned to the Royals after just one start.
The Royals have also been linked to pitchers Marco Estrada, Lance Lynn, and Dan Straily in the last week. They were also linked to Jaime Garcia, who was dealt to the Twins, but may be on the move again now that the Twins have seemingly fallen out of contention.