“There was no mandate from ownership to trim payroll,” Pirates GM Neal Huntington said.
The Pirates are sending Liriano and two prospects to Toronto for pitching prospect Drew Hutchison.
Pittsburgh acquired right-hander Ivan Nova from the New York Yankees for two players to be named later.
A 29-year-old right-hander, Nova follows relievers Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller, and outfielder Carlos Beltran out of New York.
The Bucs also acquired left-hander Antonio Bastardo and cash considerations from the New York Mets for left-hander Jonathon Neise.
Liriano revived his career in Pittsburgh, going 35-25 from 2013-15 while helping the Pirates to three straight playoff berths. He has struggled this season, posting a 6-11 record with a 5.46 ERA. The Blue Jays are hoping a change of scenery can help Liriano return to form as they compete for the AL East crown. Liriano is signed through 2017 and is due $13.66 million next season.
The 25-year-old Hutchinson has a career record of 30-22 but with a 4.92 ERA. He is 1-0 this season with the Blue Jays and has spent most of the year in Triple-A.
The Blue Jays also received catcher Reese McGuire and outfielder Harold Ramirez.
“Moves (which cut salary),” Huntington stated. “Give him flexibility to better allocate those dollars for next years club.”
Nova is 7-6 with a 4.90 ERA in 15 starts and six relief appearances, his inconsistency is among the reasons the Yankees have struggled for much of this season. He was 6-11 with a 5.07 ERA over 17 starts last year in his return from Tommy John surgery.
Bastardo, 30, has 46 strikeouts and a 4.74 ERA in 41 relief appearances this season. Last season for the Pirates, Bastardo was 4-1 with a 2.98 ERA in 66 appearances.
He signed a two-year, $12 million deal in the off season with the Mets.
Niese is 8-6 with a 4.91 ERA this season. He was acquired by the Pirates from the Mets in the off season for second baseman Neil Walker.
The flurry of moves comes with the Pirates four games out of the NL wild card spot.
“We still believe we can be one of the teams that competes in the postseason this year,” Huntington said.