Twins lefty Franciso Liriano is an intriguing potential trade candidate. It feels like he's been around forever, but he's just 27 and under team control through 2012, so he's still well within his prime years and relatively cheap for another season and a half.
Liriano's raw stuff is nasty, but the road back from Tommy John surgery in 2006 has been marked by notable highs and lows. He appeared to be fully recovered in 2010, posting a 3.62 ERA (2.62 FIP), 9.44 K/9, 2.72 BB/9 and 53.6% GB percentage. He's regressed in 2011, however, with his control (4.65 BB/9) being especially problematic.
Between Liriano's bouncing between dominance and mediocrity, and the Twins' uphill climb in the AL Central (eight games behind the Indians through today), it's quite possible that the lefty could be made available on the trade market this month. This came up in last week's MLBTR Chat with Tim Dierkes, who suggested that the Twins would probably recoup a top-50 prospect in exchange for Liriano, considering his age and contract status. (For reference, here are Keith Law's, Baseball America's and Baseball Prospectus' respective top-100 prospects for 2011).
The reasons to justify such a payment for Liriano are self-evident: His potential is huge, and he's been dominant for stretches in his career. But is it a no-brainer? Prospects are valued as highly now as they've ever been, and Liriano's inconsistencies are scary, as is his reliance on what may be an arm-taxing slider, as Eno Sarris of Fangraphs recently illustrated.
If you were a suitor, what would you do?