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Pirates, Francisco Liriano appear close to striking deal

Partially conflicting reports are emerging on the status of the Pirates' negotiations with LHP Francisco Liriano.

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Both Jon Heyman and the mysterious Robert Murray are saying that the Pirates have agreed with Francisco Liriano on a deal for three years and $39 million.  Bill Brink, on the other hand, has reported that the sides are close but nothing is final yet.  The deal would be by far the largest free-agent contract in team history. There's no question that Liriano is the Pirates' top target for bolstering their rotation, which in turn is their primary off-season need.  Obviously, this all may be changing rapidly and it's not advisable to come to any definite conclusions yet.

Signing Liriano now would be a coup for the Pirates' front office, as it was widely speculated that Liriano could be Plan B for some teams pursuing Jon Lester.  The expectation has been that the starting pitcher market would remain largely static until Lester signs.

Stay tuned, and please post anything you run across in the comments.