Despite not pitching since 2019, a former SF Giants pitching prospect officially provided closure to a career that began way back in 2005. Francisco Liriano's agent, Matt Maulini, confirmed to Robert Murray of Fansided that the veteran lefty has hung up his spikes.
Former top SF Giants pitching prospect retires after 14 seasons
The Giants originally signed Liriano as a 16-year-old international free agent out of the Dominican Republic. Even as a young prospect in the Giants system, the left-handed hurler flashed tantalizing stuff.
However, his stay in the organization would not last long as the Giants decided not to retain veteran backstop Benito Santiago after the 2003 season. They wanted a young, impact catcher with multiple years of team control but it came at a huge cost.
That led them to Minnesota Twins catcher A.J. Pierzynski. In a move that immediately became a decisive loss in the Brian Sabean era, the Giants shipped Liriano along with Joe Nathan and pitching prospect Boof Bonser to Minnesota in exchange for Pierzysnki.
Pierzynski quickly became a polarizing figure in the Giants organization as he began his tenure by going to arbitration and winning the case before ever putting on a uniform. The trouble did not end there as he reportedly kneed the head trainer during a spring training game and many questioned his lack of preparation with the pitching staff before each game.
In total, he slashed .272/.319/410 (86 OPS+) with 11 home runs, 77 RBI, and 45 runs scored in 510 plate appearances. Not surprisingly, he was not the fastest runner given the demands of his position and he led baseball by grounding into 27 double players in 2004. The Giants cut ties with the left-handed bat after that season.
On the other end of that trade, Joe Nathan became a shutdown closer for the Twins. He was selected to six All-Star games and recorded 377 career saves, which ranks eighth all time. His best work came in a Twins uniform but he continued to be an effective reliever after departing from the organization following the 2011 season.
Oddly enough, Nathan finished his career with the Giants in a cameo appearance down the stretch in 2016. The Giants were scrambling to find effective bullpen arms and reunited with Nathan, who went on to pitch 4.1 scoreless frames before retiring. In a bit of cosmic symmetry, the veteran reliever and Pierzysnki are appearing on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time this year.
Similar to Nathan, Liriano immediately became an effective arm for the Twins. He debuted as a 21-year-old pitcher in 2005 where he recorded a 5.70 ERA with 33 strikeouts in 23.2 innings. In 14 seasons, he recorded a 112-114 with a 4.15 ERA and a shade over one strikeout per inning (1,815 strikeouts in 1,813.2 innings).
His best years came in a Twins or Pittsburgh Pirates uniform, but he made stops with the Chicago White Sox (2012), Toronto Blue Jays (2016-2017), Houston Astros (2017), and the Detroit Tigers (2018) as well. This included a World Series ring with the Astros in 2017. We are Around the Foghorn want to congratulate Liriano on an impressive career and wish him luck in his future endeavors.