Pittsburgh has 10 days to trade or release Liz, who signed a $1 million deal this offseason. The Bucs can send the 31-year-old to the Minors if he clears waivers, but manager Clint Hurdle doesn't see that happening.
"We won't have a choice. In the state of the pitching industry the way it is now, I'd be surprised if we get to hold on to him," Hurdle said. "We'd love to. I'd be surprised if we get to."
A starter for most of his career, Liz occasionally struggled with the move to the bullpen. He put together a 3.63 ERA and a 1.73 WHIP in 17 1/3 innings over 11 appearances, striking out 18 batters and walking 10.
"Worley, we believe, can provide more length. He's built up to throw more pitches," Hurdle said. "We like Radhames. We hoped to work with him more. The transition to the bullpen was a work in progress. He had started for the lion's share of his pitching career."
Just getting back to the Majors this year was an accomplishment for Liz, who hadn't pitched in the big leagues since 2009. Since then, he'd pitched in the Minors, in the Korea Baseball Organization and most recently in the Blue Jays' farm system.
"When you get into the organization, hopefully as you get better, some of the decisions become tougher," Hurdle said. "And this wasn't an easy decision by any means."
The Pirates could have simply optioned right-hander Rob Scahill to Triple-A and held on to Liz, perhaps the better move in terms of asset management. But when it comes to performance, Scahill has demanded a spot on the big league roster.
Scahill, 28, has recorded a 1.02 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 17 2/3 innings over 15 appearances.
"We need to give credit to guys when they're pitching well," Hurdle said. "That option is a very valuable thing to have from time to time, and there's times where those need to be used and there's times where they don't need to be used based on performance, projection and value that he's brought to the club moving forward."