Mid-Season Trade Candidates—Francisco Liriano

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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.

Hiroki Kuroda is a free agent at the end of the season; Andy Pettitte is a question mark as to whether he’ll keep pitching. (I’d bet that he will.)

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.