The urgency to trade LHP Francisco Liriano had been lingering for at least the last month. While some wondered if management reached out to him about a contract extension, GM Terry Ryan said that they never spoke about a long term deal. Now that we know that, we know they needed to trade him. While some do not like the return the Twins got in the deal, the time had come. The fact that this is Liriano’s free agent year combined with his checkered past with the team meant that they had to get something for him rather than watch him walk for nothing. Teams most likely knew that the Twins had no choice, costing them some leverage in negotiations.
Remember also that this is the same guy who was demoted to the bullpen with a 9+ ERA a few months ago. You can bet that hurt his value as a trade target when teams knew he would be a free agent at season’s end. Given the choice, many teams were probably willing to wait to pursue him without having to give up any players from their farm system for an inconsistent but promising pitcher. Think of it this way: if I told you back in May that the Twins would be able to get two admittedly underwhelming prospects for Liriano, wouldn’t you have done cartwheels? Shouts of joy would have rang: “They got professional baseball players for him!”
With Liriano the Twins did not have the option of holding out for the perfect package. They do have that option with their remaining players whom other teams are targeting: Josh Willingham, Justin Morneau, and Denard Span. All three are under contract beyond this season; if the Twins are not overwhelmed by a package in which their trading partner overpays for one of them, they will keep them. This truth has unfolded recently with the rumors surrounding Span and Morneau. The Twins have said they will not take anything less than a Major League starter for Span. Talks with the Dodgers about Morneau have cooled because the player they wanted, Nathan Eovaldi, is no longer available after the Hanley Ramirez trade. There is no need to trade any of the three just for the sake of making a deadline deal as a seller.
We cannot say for sure what the case would have been as far as needing to trade Pavano, Capps, and their respective injured shoulders today. We will have to see what happens in August and beyond after they have returned to the team. At that point any rumor will be qualified with: “If they clear waivers…” For that reason alone the Twins will have to handle those situations differently, and perhaps with less urgency, than any deals before the deadline in the next 3.5 hours.
As always, stay tuned.