Francisco Liriano Rumors
The Twins avoided arbitration with starter Francisco Liriano, signing the Legacy Sports client to a $5.5MM deal, tweets ESPN's Enrique Rojas. It was a rough year for Liriano, limiting his raise to $1.2MM. He'll be a free agent after 2012.
The Twins' arbitration agenda will be complete if they sign infielder Alexi Casilla.
2:32pm: The Yankees inquired on Twins center fielder Denard Span, tweets Yahoo's Tim Brown. Brown imagines that this inquiry could be part of something bigger, since the Yankees are currently set on outfielders. Joel Sherman speculates that if the Yankees inquired on Span perhaps it was with the idea of flipping him to the Nationals in a deal involving Tyler Clippard.
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?
Here's the latest from Jayson Stark of ESPN.com ...
- Twins lefty Francisco Liriano could be made available via trade in July if Minnesota continues to struggle, but teams will be hesitant to acquire him because of his inconsistencies. One scout told Stark that Liriano has great stuff, but the southpaw's mechanics are a mess. Liriano is under team control through next season.
- Phillies lefty Cole Hamels' three-year, $20.5MM deal expires after this season, leaving him with one year of arbitration eligibility before free agency. Stark wonders how the Phillies will approach a potential extension for Hamels, and Hamels' agent said that the sides haven't yet discussed such a deal. One point of reference to keep in mind, per Stark: Justin Verlander, whose five-year, $80MM pact with the Tigers bought out three years of arbitration eligibility.
- Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer made his Major League debut today amid much fanfare, but several teams told Stark that they would have waited a while longer so as to ensure that the blue-chipper wouldn't be a Super Two. Kansas City, however, has said all along that it would call up its players when they're ready, according to Stark. Earlier today, Ben Nicholson-Smith examined the financial implications of Hosmer's promotion.
- The Mets and Giants maintain that they haven't discussed a potential trade for shortstop Jose Reyes. However, Stark thinks the Giants will need to address the position, and Reyes is a perfect fit.
We all know how the Twins acquired Francisco Liriano. Back in 2003, the Giants sent Liriano, Joe Nathan and Boof Bonser to Minnesota for A.J. Pierzynski in what would become one of the most significant trades of the decade. In honor of Liriano’s recent no-hitter, here’s a list of all the pitchers to throw no-hitters since 2005 and an explanation of how their teams acquired them:
- Anibal Sanchez - Traded from the Red Sox to the Marlins in 2005 (also in one of the decade’s most memorable deals).
- Justin Verlander - Selected by the Tigers in the first round of the 2004 draft.
- Clay Buchholz - Selected by the Red Sox in the first round of the 2005 draft.
- Jon Lester - Selected by the Red Sox in the second round of the 2002 draft.
- Carlos Zambrano - Signed by the Cubs as an amateur free agent in 1997.
- Jonathan Sanchez - Selected by the Giants in the 27th round of the 2004 draft.
- Mark Buehrle (2 no-hitters) - Selected by the White Sox in the 38th round of the 1998 draft.
- Ubaldo Jimenez - Signed by the Rockies as an amateur free agent in 2002.
- Dallas Braden - Selected by the A's in the 24th round of the 2004 draft.
- Roy Halladay (2 no-hitters) - Traded from the Blue Jays to the Phillies in 2009
- Edwin Jackson - Traded from the Tigers to the D'Backs in 2009.
- Matt Garza - Traded from the Twins to the Rays in 2007
- Francisco Liriano - Traded from the Giants to the Twins in 2003.
The Indians weren't supposed to be sitting atop the AL Central standings a month into the season and the Twins weren't supposed to be in the cellar. Here are some links from the AL Central, including the latest reaction to a surprising April...
- Everyone's wondering if the Indians are for real and Dave Cameron of FanGraphs provided an answer today: they aren't as good as they've seemed (19-8), but their offense should keep them in the race for much of the season, even if their pitching regresses, as expected.
- Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com points out that the Indians now have a chance. "Nobody predicted they'd have it, and few seem to think they can sustain it. But with each win comes a little more belief."
- MLB.com's Dick Kaegel explains that the Royals are taking advantage of technology to approach advance scouting in a new way.
- Removing Francisco Liriano from the rotation may not be the worst decision the last-place Twins could make, writes Chris Cwik of FanGraphs.
- White Sox GM Kenny Williams told MLB.com's Scott Merkin that he isn't looking to blame anyone for his team's 10-19 start.
A few items from the middle section of the American League map...
- Shin-Soo Choo says he hasn't heard from agent Scott Boras or from the Indians about the status of contract extension talks, or if the two sides are even currently talking, reports Jordan Bastian of MLB.com. Boras and the Tribe were negotiating earlier this winter, and Choo has said that he doesn't want the talks to stretch into the season. The fact that Boras has described the Indians as "a developmental team" is not a good sign for Cleveland fans, though since Choo is under contract through 2013, it gives the club a couple of years to break in their young prospects.
- Kevin Slowey is the Twins pitcher that's most likely to be traded, not Francisco Liriano, writes Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. We heard during the Winter Meetings that Minnesota was considering using Slowey as trade bait.
- From the same item, Souhan reports the Rangers (in addition to the Yankees) also inquired about Liriano's availability.
- Paul Konerko had "a feeling of closure" last season in Chicago and "was preparing himself emotionally to devote himself to a new organization," writes Melissa Isaacson of ESPNChicago.com. Isaacson talks to Konerko about his free agency and how he ended up back with the White Sox.
Some notes from the Twin Cities...
- The Twins turned down a Yankee offer of Ivan Nova and Ramiro Pena for Francisco Liriano earlier this winter, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com. The Twins, however, are interested in left-handed pitching prospect Manuel Banuelos and want him included in any package from New York. Rosenthal thinks the two teams will revisit negotiations before Opening Day, but notes the two sides haven't talked "in at least a month." Minnesota assistant GM Rob Antony said last week that the Liriano trade speculation was nothing but rumors.
- The Twins didn't have "serious" negotiations about an extension with Liriano this winter. Rosenthal speculates that Minnesota may have concerns about Liriano's durability, since "otherwise, an extension makes perfect sense." Liriano can be a free agent after 2012 and MLBTR's Tim Dierkes saw the southpaw as an extension candidate last fall.
- Michael Cuddyer is slightly upset, but understanding, about the Twins not discussing a contract extension with him over the winter, writes Kelsie Smith of the Pioneer Press. Cuddyer can be a free agent after the season and Smith argues that the Twins would miss Cuddyer's clubhouse leadership if he were to depart.
A month from now, Spring Training will be a thing of the past, but there are still jobs to be won and deals to be made over the course of the next four weeks. Here's the latest from Yankees camp...
- Joe Mauer passed along some advice for Jesus Montero through Joe Brescia of the New York Times: the Twins backstop says Montero should make an effort to learn as much as possible from Jorge Posada and Russell Martin. Mauer, an unusually tall catcher like Montero, is excited for the Yankees prospect to arrive in the majors.
- Mike Axisa of River Ave. Blues says that the more he hears Joe Girardi and the Yankees coaching staff, the more he thinks Montero has a legit chance to back Martin up, instead of starting the season at Triple-A.
- Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork hears that the Yankees did call the Twins about Francisco Liriano's availability during the offseason. The Twins and Yankees say nothing's happening on that front, however.
- Rob Neyer of SB Nation has trouble imagining a package that would entice the Twins to part with Liriano.
- Newsday's Ken Davidoff says the Yankees' long-term future is bright, even though the club would have preferred to make more pronounced upgrades to its rotation this winter.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman told Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com that no matter what you've heard about Francisco Liriano or anyone else, the Yankees aren't pursuing trades for starting pitching (Twitter link). Starters may be in demand, but the Yankees say the best pitchers aren't on the trading block.
"I'm not talking to anyone about anything right now," Cashman said. "Nobody's available. Nobody of value, anyway."
Liriano definitely has value. He's making just $4.3MM next year and is under team control through 2012. Last year, the left-hander posted a 3.62 ERA with 9.4 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 191 2/3 innings. Liriano has fully recovered from Tommy John surgery to regain the form that he showed as a dominant 22-year-old rookie in 2006.
Though USA Today reported that the Yankees are watching Liriano, Twins assistant GM Rob Antony recently told Jesse Lund of Twinkie Town that the club isn't discussing trades involving Liriano.