Francisco Liriano to the White Sox for prospects Francisco Liriano to the White Sox for prospects

Constructing the 2013 Twins – The Liriano Trade


Last night the Twins started the 2013 re-build by trading Francisco Liriano to the White Sox for prospects Pedro Hernandez and Eduardo Escobar.

Liriano’s struggles and resurgence have been well chronicled. He had a 10 great start run after being re-inserted into the starting rotation in May. An impressive 2.84 ERA plus 25 K’s in his last 2 starts in the run had the fan-base hopeful for a resurgent Liriano going forward or a decent trade haul at the deadline. After giving up 7 runs in 2.2 innings to the White Sox, Liriano’s value statement had been made. Liriano is a pither with a 3-10 record a 5.31/4.22 ERA/FIP. He has an impressive 9.81 K/9 but a very high 4.95 BB/9.

For a time, I had visions of potential high end starters for 2013. Not the top 50 propsects in baseball, but guys like Dellin Betances, Carlos Martinez and Garrett Richards danced through my head. All potential middle of the rotation starters that could help the tattered Twins pitching staff in 2013. A staff with an ace of Scott Diamond needs all the help it can get.

Well, the Twins traded for lefty pitcher Hernandez and infielder Escobar instead. Both are only 23, both have already made their major debuts and add inventory in positions of need in the Twins system. The problem is, they are not very high impact prospects.

With a rotation that will include Scott Diamond, Nick Blackburn and a host of mediocre prospects, unknowns, has-beens and never-wheres fighting for a starting spot, Hernandez could very well be in the mix next year. Problem is, Hernandez doesn’t strike out many guys but at least he doesn’t walk many. He’s a true Minnesota Twin pitcher. He has decent numbers in the minors (10-3, 3.49 ERA between A, AA & AAA in 2011), but if he and Escobar had been in the system last year, I would have ranked him #36. He’ll probably move up a few spots this year, but he looks like a #5 or bullpen arm.

Escobar was ranked by various services anywhere from 7th to 10th in Chicago’s system after 2011. A great defensive player with no bat (Twins have never had one of those), I’d have ranked him #29. Since the White Sox system is generally considered one of, if not, the worst in all of baseball, it shouldn’t shock anyone that Escobar would rank much lower in Minnesota’s system. With uncertainty at shortstop and second base for the immediate future, Escobar could help the Twins a little bit.

The Twins had an asset in Liriano with a little more than $2 million owed the rest of 2012. A guy worth no more to any team than a couple guys that wouldn’t even top 25 in the Twins system. The Twins are so desperate for pitching, that they traded their 2nd best pitcher this season and the one with the most upside away for these two guys.

Fangraphs says Liriano has been worth $4.9 million so far this season or around $7.5 million if extrapolated over the full season. Once the season ended, the Twins could have received a 1st round compensation pick if they had offered a qualifying offer of $12.4 million and Liriano signed somewhere else.

So, the decision the Twins had was complicated:

1. Offer Liriano a one year deal for 35% more than he’s been worth in 2012?

2. Hope he signs elsewhere?

3. Accept him signing back?

4. Offer an extension for 2 to 3 years at say $8 million and not offer the qualifier?

5. Get something now because no offer was coming?

The Twins chose #5 and as much as I don’t love the trade, they have given themselves some depth and some potential and saved $2 million. The problem is, it doesn’t improve the Twins much in 2013 or the future.

What he does from here on out doesn’t matter much, it’s what he would have done the rest of the year and 2013 that is important.

Check out Nate’s thoughts on the trade