Pirates make one-year deal with Liz official
Former top prospect with Orioles rebooted career while pitching in Korea
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Pirates' eternal search for -- and admirable success with -- reclamation pitching projects has led them to the ultimate challenge: Right-hander Radhames Liz, with whom on Friday they finalized a one-year contract. The deal was originally reported on Nov. 21.
Liz is a former Top 100 prospect credited with being a hard thrower with an arresting breaking pitch. But here's the rub: That was nearly a decade ago, and he most recently appeared in the Majors in 2009.
Liz's deal -- originally reported to be for two years and $3 million -- includes just 2015 and is believed to be worth $1 million due to some issues raised by his physical. To make room for Liz, the Pirates designated right-hander Josh Lindblom for assignment.
Now 31, the Dominican right-hander hadn't since fallen off the baseball map. In fact, his 2011-13 performance for Seoul in the Korean Baseball Organization featured enough progress to invite the Pirates' interest in making him their latest makeover subject.
Liz was 6-8 with a 7.50 ERA in limited showings with the 2007-09 Orioles, then went 26-38 in Korea. However, in a league with the reputation of being very offense-oriented, he stood out with an ERA of 3.51 in 85 starts.
He first attracted the interest of the Blue Jays, who brought him back to North America last season. Liz went 3-2 with a 2.95 ERA in 12 starts between Double-A and Triple-A, then became a free agent.
He now will have an opportunity to take his place in the Pirates' apocryphal Hall of Reclaimed Fame. Charter members are A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano, Vance Worley, Edinson Volquez, even Mark Melancon -- all of whom had come to Pittsburgh at career low points and been "fixed" by pitching coach Ray Searage and pitching guru Jim Benedict, a special assistant to general manager Neal Huntington.
In one odd sense, Liz is the second coming of Daniel Cabrera.
Cabrera was another Baltimore pitching prospect from the Dominican Republic who had considerably more success with the Orioles, breaking through with a 12-8 record in 2004. Then he developed issues, mostly due to control problems, and hit the baseball treadmill. The Pirates took a shot at him in 2012, but he was dealt to Arizona after going 6-6 in a half-season at Triple-A Indianapolis.
The Bucs are hoping Liz becomes more than Cabrera 2.0.