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Pirates, Liriano talking revised contract

| Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, 6:38 p.m.
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The Pirates finally signed left-hander Francisco Liriano on Friday, more than a month after the two sides initially agreed to a two-year deal. Getty Images file photo

The Pirates moved closer Monday toward finalizing a contract with free-agent left-hander Francisco Liriano, but the resolution still is at least a few days away.

Foxsports.com reported the two sides have agreed to a revised version of the two-year, $12.75 million contract that was hammered out last month. The Pirates backed away from the original deal after Liriano injured his non-throwing arm in late December.

The years and dollars stay the same under the new plan, according to an industry source. However, Liriano's salary in 2013 can be reduced if he is injured and not ready for the start of the season.

Liriano, 29, still must pass a physical before the deal is consummated. He did not have any health issues last season when he went a combined 6-12 with a 5.34 ERA for the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox.

There may be other financial forces in play that could delay the completion of Liriano's deal. Management wants to keep payroll for the 40-man roster to around $70 million this year, but the Pirates already have 12 players under contract for $62.7 million. That figure includes $13.5 million that will be paid by the New York Yankees and Houston Astros toward the salaries of A.J. Burnett and Wandy Rodriguez, respectively.

Working out contracts with the two remaining arbitration-eligible players, Neil Walker and James McDonald, should cost a total of about $6.5 million. Figure in the handful of other players who'll make the major league minimum of $490,000, and the Pirates' potential payroll jumps to around $78 million.

If Liriano signs, he would move into the middle of a starting rotation that includes Burnett, Rodriguez and McDonald.

When the Liriano deal was in jeopardy, the Pirates last week re-signed right-hander Jeff Karstens to compete for a rotation spot. Karstens, who has been used as a swingman much of his career, will make $2.5 million this year.

Rookie Kyle McPherson and left-hander Jeff Locke were expected to compete for the final rotation job during spring training. The arrival of Liriano might force them to go against Karstens for that spot, or they both could be slated to start the season at Triple-A Indianapolis.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib

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