Name: Francisco Liriano
Tale of the tape: Left-handed pitcher; 28-years-old (29 in October); 6’2”; 215 lbs.
Contract status: $5.5 million in 2012; free agent after the season.
Would the Twins trade him?
Liriano is going to get traded. The Twins are terrible and need to replenish their farm system. Apart from a sprinkled in solid performance and 2010’s 14-10 showing with a 3.62 ERA and 201 strikeouts, he’s pitched inconsistently at best since returning from Tommy John surgery in 2008.
In 2012, he was demoted to the bullpen after a rotten start. He’s pitched better since becoming a starter again. His velocity has been in the 93-94 range but he’s lacking command with his fastball. It makes no sense for the Twins to keep him this season; if they’re truly interested in bringing him back, they can trade him and try to re-sign him this winter.
What would they want for him?
A couple of minor leaguers, preferably pitchers. The Twins can ask for high-end prospects and see if anyone bites.
Which teams would pursue him?
20 of the 30 big league clubs have a viable reason to go after Liriano because he can be used as a starter or a reliever.
The Yankees don’t need him as a starter now, but trading for Liriano and using him as a set-up man would give them another lefty reliever—one that has a down and in slider to handle righties.
The Red Sox would want him as a starter.
Expect the Twins to try and create a bidding war—complete with the leaks suggesting that both teams are “closing in” on a deal for Liriano—between the Yankees and Red Sox.
Name any contending team and they can all use Liriano.
What will they get for him?
Because he’s a free agent at the end of the season and is versatile, Liriano could make a huge difference to the team that gets him. With that in mind, the Twins might get a couple of pretty good prospects for him.
What will happen?
The Yankees have long coveted Liriano and I think that’s where he ends up. They’ll use him as a reliever and work on convincing him that he should sign for 2013 with an eye on being a starter.
Who knows what’s going to happen with Michael Pineda? Even if he pitches in 2013, he’s going to be on a strict pitch count/innings limit.
It would benefit Liriano to pitch as a reliever down the stretch and in the playoffs in 2012 and remain with the Yankees on a 1-year, incentive-laden deal as a starter in 2013 to accumulate wins and pitch for a high-scoring contender.