MINNEAPOLIS – It may seem a shocking (and perhaps stupid) idea but it is becoming increasingly possible that the Twins may trade Francisco Liriano. Especially given recent events inside and outside the organization.
The most solid evidence of this is the fact the Twins failed to sign Liriano to a multi-year contract. In fact the talks went backwards if they went any direction. Liriano will be a free agent after the 2012 season and with the one year contract to avoid arbitration it appears the Twins aren’t really interested in signing him long term. According to sources Liriano wanted a 3-year/$39 million deal. The Twins instead gave him 1-year/$4.3 million.
It is clear these two sides do not see eye-to-eye.
Another piece of convincing evidence is that Liriano is injury prone and doesn’t have what you’d call nerves of steel. He is just now getting confidence back in his fastball and changeup and his best pitch is his slider. Not the best pitch for an elbow that underwent Tommy John surgery in 2006.
The third and most convincing piece of evidence is actually a solid fact: Liriano is a hot commodity after his rebirth season of 2010. Add that to the intense need and want for starting pitching throughout the Majors. The Twin’s appetite may be whet by the fact former Twins hot commodity Matt Garza was dealt to the North Side of Chicago and the Cubs reportedly paid the Rays handsomely for Garza’s services. The Royals also hit pay dirt with the trade of Zach Greinke. Also there is a little known team in the Bronx that lost out huge on the Cliff Lee sweepstakes and currently has a starting rotation that has the high chance of being eaten alive in a vastly improved AL East. The Twins can get another chance at getting Yankee prospects they lost out on during the Johan Santana debacle.
Which brings me to why trading Liriano, as much evidence as there is, is a very dumb idea. The popular argument includes the above reasons and the fact the Twins do have 5 potential starters already set to step up. Carl Pavano, Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey, Brian Duensing and Nick Blackburn are all healthy and ready to go. But are they going to put out the performance Liriano can? Yeah Liriano is, at times, a ticking time bomb; but does Nick Blackburn or Scott Baker give you more confidence? Kyle Gibson is waiting in the wings and looks like the real deal, but so did Jeff Manship.
Bottom line is Liriano was the starting pitcher in Game 1 of the ALDS for a reason. He may have gotten beat up in his showdown with Ubaldo Jimenez, but Liriano swept the White Sox which is a WAY more important stat. They may have been more stressful than fans would have liked but is that really a reason to bail on the left-hander? This really holds together like a conspiracy theory where all the evidence seems like it would work but then common sense destroys it. For the record Joe Christensen of the Strib (Star Tribune) brought this story to my attention and after thinking about it logically, it must have been a really slow day at Strib HQ.