Once a team is designated a true seller, as the Twins have been this season, it is easy for fans to grow anxious when no moves have been made. This uneasiness is understandable; obviously the team as it is currently assembled is not built for success. For management to sit on its hands or not shake up that team is unacceptable. When viewed that way, inaction at the trade deadline is a sign of a lack of competence.
Other factors weigh in for these so-called sellers, however. First of all, they have to figure out which players are actually valuable in the trade market. Once they know that list, they have to make decisions based on the individual circumstances of each player. A thoughtful decision needs to be made with each case, as opposed to just selling because that is what a team in last place is supposed to do.
Consider the cases of outfielders Josh Willingham and Denard Span. Each is attracting interest because he is a productive player on a team-friendly contract. Trading either will not automatically make this flailing franchise better. The Twins need to get quite the haul in return; if they are not able to do so, then their best chance to improve the overall quality of the team might very well be to keep them. With certain individual players it will indeed be better to stand pat; that is why each player’s situation must be handled in its uniqueness.
Speaking of unique, Francisco Liriano also needs to be viewed on his own. For this team, this pitcher, and in this situation, they would be very wise to trade him. His upside is tantalizing, but for the price he will cost in a contract extension, his inconsistency make him a bad investment for a team that needs to rebuild. His contract will not be friendly and his production is not consistent. His upside makes him a valuable trade chip, outings like last night’s loss to the Chicago White Sox not withstanding. If, hypothetically, the Twins did not trade him, then that inaction would call for a certain measure of discontent.
Unfortunately it would have made more sense to trade high (if it had been possible) when Liriano struck out double digit hitters in consecutive starts a week ago. Hopefully scouts left last night’s game with the impression that he just needs a change of scenery and would still be worth a pile of prospects in a deadline deal.