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Liriano, Pirates take the safe route

Francisco Liriano has posted a 3.20 ERA with 338 strikeouts in 323 1/3 innings with the Pirates. Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Pirates' re-signing of Francisco Liriano looks like a preemptive strike to lock him up before Jon Lester signs some kind of seven-year, $172 million deal that sends the losers in that market scurrying for the next-best available lefty. It also ensures they'll have the 2013 band back together, thanks to the return of A.J. Burnett on a one-year (discounted) deal, giving them a full rotation to start the year and an extra starter once Charlie Morton returns. This team has built its success around run prevention over the past two years, and they don't seem to see a need to change that strategy.

The surprising bit here is that the Pirates made this deal yet weren't willing to give Burnett $14.1 million last winter, choosing not to make him a qualifying offer and losing him as a free agent to the Philadelphia Phillies.