Pirates deal out qualifying offers to veterans Martin, Liriano |

Pirates deal out qualifying offers to veterans Martin, Liriano

Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
Pirates catcher Russell Martin talks with pitcher Francisco Liriano during a game against the Boston Red Sox on Sept. 17, 2014, at PNC Park.

Bidding to keep two of their best players from bolting as free agents, the Pirates on Monday gave catcher Russell Martin and pitcher Francisco Liriano each a $15.3 million qualifying offer.

Liriano and Martin have until Nov. 10 to decide whether to accept the offers. If they decline their qualifying offers and sign elsewhere, the Pirates will get two picks after the first round in the June draft as compensation.

Even if Martin and Liriano turn down their qualifying offers, the Pirates will continue to try to re-sign both players.

“Our plan is to continue to keep the door open as long as we can,” general manager Neal Huntington said. “If we end up being their best fit, that’s good news. If we’re not, we’ll turn the page and work to continue to make the club better.”

Twelve players got qualifying offers before Monday night’s deadline. This is the first time the Pirates have made a qualifying offer.

Since the process began in 2012, no free agent has accepted a qualifying offer.

“There’s always a first … and maybe a second,” Huntington said.

Of the 22 players who received qualifying offers over the past two years, 17 ended up signing with new teams.

Martin and Liriano are rated among the top dozen free agents, so each likely will have several offers. The Chicago Cubs and Toronto Blue Jays reportedly are among the teams eyeing Martin.

The agents for Martin and Liriano did not respond to requests for comment.

Martin, 31, most likely will reject his offer. When he signed a two-year, $17 million contract with the Pirates in November 2012, Martin said he eschewed a longer deal to better position himself to re-enter the free agent market.

If Martin departs, it would leave Chris Stewart and Tony Sanchez as the top catchers on the roster. Huntington called that “a starting point” and said he then would explore the free-agent and trade markets for a better option.

Liriano, who turned 31 on Oct. 26, went 23-18 with a 3.20 ERA in his two seasons with the Pirates.

“The won-loss record wasn’t as (good) this year, but when he was healthy he threw the ball very well,” Huntington said. “We feel good about a one-year, $15.3 million deal. If he hits the free-agent market, we’ll stay engaged and do what we can to bring him back.”

The qualifying offer likely is tempting for Liriano, who has made about $19.5 million in his nine-year career. However, he would prefer a multi-year contract and there’s a decent chance of him getting such a deal elsewhere.

The Pirates did not make qualifying offers to their other two free agents, pitcher Edinson Volquez and infielder Clint Barmes. Huntington said he would like to re-sign both. Near the end of the season, Barmes and Volquez said they would be open to re-signing with the Pirates. Volquez, who made $5 million this year, is seeking a multiyear contract. Barmes made $2 million as a backup and appeared in only 48 games.

Notes: Huntington said right-hander Jameson Taillon is in the early stages of a throwing program as he continues to recover from Tommy John surgery. … Huntington said the Pirates have not decided whether to allow outfielder Gregory Polanco to play for Leonoes del Escogido in the Dominican Winter League. According to a recent report out of the Dominican, Escogido general manager Moises Alou said Polanco will join his team in December. … Utilityman Chase d’Arnaud and pitchers John Axford and Jeanmar Gomez were outrighted, which made them all minor league free agents. … Huntington said infielder Pedro Alvarez still is recovering from a foot injury, so his offseason workout regimen remains undetermined.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.