• What Would a Francisco Liriano Trade Look Like?

    Ever since his demotion to the bullpen, Francisco Liriano has been back to his new-old self.

    In 37.1 innings, Liriano has posted a much improved 2.41 ERA, limited hitters to a .157 average against and has struck out 40 while walking just 14 thanks to rekindling his relationship with his dirty, dirty slider.

    Nevertheless, even with the improvement, the Twins front office has to be considering moving the enigmatic starter at the upcoming trade deadline because of the current state of the organization and the $12 million price tag required to offer him in arbitration in order to secure a compensatory draft pick. If the Twins are committed to rebuilding and strengthening the organization for several years instead of just next year, trading the rejuvenated Liriano makes complete sense.

    The question is what sort of return could the Twins expect at the deadline?


    FoxSports.com’s Jon Morosi tweeted yesterday that his club sources told him that officials expect “robust” interest in Liriano based on his recent performance. With the added Wild Card berth granted this year, clearly more teams will consider themselves buyers rather than sellers and the deadline. And, if what Morosi said is accurate, Liriano’s value is elevated by a number of clubs competing for his service and the Twins return should be expectedly more substantial.

    Of course, it is not quite that cut-and-dry. For starters, Liriano’s impending free agency undoubtedly drives his return down. After all, we’re not talking a Cliff Lee/CC Sabathia-type track record that would merit a team unloading multiple prospects for the half-season rental. Liriano has just six consecutive starts in which he’s pitched well. Furthermore, even though he has not shown it this season, he remains an injury concern.

    Since 2001, there seems to be just a few trades that occurred at the non-waiver deadline that are comparable to the Twins if they choose to move Liriano by himself (if they add players to the trade, all bets are off).

    On July 28th, 2010, the 56-44 Chicago White Sox were clinging to a one-game lead over the Twins and looking to further distance themselves by adding some starting pitching. Sox GM Kenny Williams targeted the Arizona Diamondbacks’ hard-throwing right-handed, 26-year-old Edwin Jackson.

    Jackson, who had worked 397.1 innings with a 27-20 record along with a 3.99 ERA the previous two seasons, was not finding the National League nearly as accommodating as Tampa Bay or Detroit. In 21 starts with the Arizona club in 2010, he went 6-10 with a 5.16 ERA while walking four batters per nine innings – his highest rate since 2007. Despite that performance, Chicago’s lust for a winner and Jackson’s recent success combined with a 94 mile per hour fastball incited Williams to pull the trigger by sending their third and eighth highest ranking prospects according to Baseball America in right-handed starter Dan Hudson and lefty David Holmberg.

    Hudson has been extremely valuable in Arizona, going 26-14 in 52 starts with a very nice 3.47 ERA while striking out 273 and walking just 78 in 345.1 innings pitched. Holmberg, meanwhile, has turned 20 years old this year but is a fast-moving prospect in the Dback’s system. In his stop at high-A Visalia he struck out 86 batters in 78.1 innings and was bumped to AA Mobile.

    What’s the likelihood of this scenario playing out for the Twins? I wouldn’t hold my breath. Unlike Liriano, Jackson was under contract at the time and due to make a reasonable sum of $8.35 million in 2011 and he had also never showed much injury potential making his acquisition seemingly less risky than Liriano. Still, never underestimate a GM who reeks of desperation for a winner, as Williams proved, who was willing to flip a productive and club-controlled pitcher for one they felt could contribute immediately.

    If the Jackson-for-Hudson trade is at one end of the potential spectrum (the “hey, wouldn’t it be great if…” end of the spectrum) at the other end is the Kyle Lohse-to-Philly trade in 2007 (the “hey, this feels about right” end).

    That year, the Phillies, who had finished second in the NL East for three consecutive seasons and were denied playoff berths, wanted to improve their starting rotation. Curiously enough, they tapped into Cincinnati’s Lohse who had been traded from Minnesota to the Reds one year ago to the day.

    In Lohse, the Phillies were receiving a 28-year-old right-hander who had seen a steady decline in his performance since his solid 2003 season – although his record while in Cincinnati was more reflective of his lack of run support, receiving below average offense in his time with the Reds. In exchange, Philadelphia shipped a left-handed pitcher who was tearing up the lower ranks of their system: 23-year-old Matt Maloney.

    Although Lohse is nothing like Liriano in terms of style – Liriano’s ceiling and floor is wildly different than Lohse’s had been up to that point - their situations share similarities. For instance, when traded, Lohse would be paid a prorated share of his $4.2 million salary, not all too different from Liriano’s $5.5 million. Both were reasonable contracts to assume but potential trade partners likely recognize that the current teams (the Reds and Twins respectively) were not planning on retaining either pitcher.

    As Twins fans know by now, Maloney never quite panned out but back in 2007, he was an interesting commodity for Cincinnati. As Baseball America pointed out, Maloney had just come off a season in the South Atlantic League in which he was named Pitcher of the Year thanks to leading the league in wins (16), innings (169) and strikeouts (180) and finishing a close second in ERA (2.03). Since they were going to lose Lohse to free agency likely anyways, landing an intriguing arm in exchange seemed like a fair compensation.

    Obviously, it is hard to predict what the market with do for Liriano with a month remaining to the deadline. If he continues his current output, it is easy to see more teams jumping into the fray (such as the Toronto Blue Jays who Nick Nelson wrote about today) and perhaps push offers up towards the Daniel Hudson level. However, if he falters a bit, his stock likely drops to the Maloney-prospect-gamble range.
    This article was originally published in blog: What Would a Francisco Liriano Trade Look Like? started by Parker Hageman
    Comments 122 Comments
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      If you read back in this thread, MWW, you WILL find that "trade him for anything you can get message." And exactly what strawman argument did YOU see? THAT's the thing I missed.

      There are several viable options, including offering a fair three-year deal, trading him for Dan Hudson level return, offering him arbitration and either living with the compensation pick or living with his expensive presence, and perhaps dangling him again at next year's trade deadline. Those are reasonable options. The option that is unreasonable comes from the "dump him for anything crowd, and that crowd does in fact exist.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by birdwatcher View Post
      There are several viable options, including offering a fair three-year deal, trading him for Dan Hudson level return, offering him arbitration and either living with the compensation pick or living with his expensive presence, and perhaps dangling him again at next year's trade deadline. Those are reasonable options. The option that is unreasonable comes from the "dump him for anything crowd, and that crowd does in fact exist.
      You're taking the point to the extreme. Liriano, if healthy and semi-competent, will have some value. If we have the opportunity to trade him and get value this year - it's better than letting him walk for nothing. The offseason's most likely scenario is him NOT returning. It's far more ridiculous to hope he'll take some team-friendly deal than it is to just want him gone and take what should likely be a decent offer this year.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      I would rather see Baker, even off of TJ surgery, make 4/32 than Liriano. As Storm posted above. We're five years removed from Liriano's surgery and only once has he posted the numbers you insist are possible. And in at least two full seasons he has been arguably one of the worst starters in all of baseball.

      At what point of inconsistency (and I would argue - reliable awfulness) does a long term contract not become a bad move?
      At what point of having no possibility of an above average pitcher in the rotation does not taking a chance on Liriano become a bad move?

      He has unquestionably the best stuff of any pitcher in the Twins system, rookie ball to the majors. That seems to me the guy you take a chance on, not Scott Baker coming of TJ, or hoping to snag another couple Jason Marquis types to round out the Blackburn, Diamond, Walters trio topping the rotation next year.

      A three yr contract that doesn't work out would hurt the Twins, but not cripple them. A three year contract where he pitches anything close to his potential would be a bargain, and give them a number one, or two, starter, that they need no matter whether they're hoping to compete in 2013 or 2015.

      And despite your usual over-the-top schtick, "realiable awfulness" is exactly what Liriano ISN'T. Inconsistent? Yes. But he's always had flashes of brilliance, even in his bad seasons. I certainly don't know if he can become consistent, but I'd much rather gamble on that than gamble on something that you already know won't ever be better than 'decent.'
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by birdwatcher View Post
      If you read back in this thread, MWW, you WILL find that "trade him for anything you can get message." And exactly what strawman argument did YOU see? THAT's the thing I missed.

      There are several viable options, including offering a fair three-year deal, trading him for Dan Hudson level return, offering him arbitration and either living with the compensation pick or living with his expensive presence, and perhaps dangling him again at next year's trade deadline. Those are reasonable options. The option that is unreasonable comes from the "dump him for anything crowd, and that crowd does in fact exist.
      Well said.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      I think that the comparison between the returns in the Jackson and Lohse trades is very interesting and teaches a good lesson: Hudson was doing well in AAA for a couple of seasons and had a couple cups of September coffee with the Sux, while Maloney had just gotten up to AA when they were traded. It was obvious that Hudson was MLB-ready, whereas Maloney had "potential". So if the interim goes after MLB-ready players over "potential", he can do better (and at least will have bodies for the 2013 rotation.)

      One note: I think that FranKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKie is much better pitcher than Jackson.

      About that "offering him arbitration" talk: With the new CBA, the Twins have to offer a contract of at least 1 yr $12.5 M to get a comp. pick if he signs elsewhere. I doubt they do that.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      At what point of having no possibility of an above average pitcher in the rotation does not taking a chance on Liriano become a bad move?
      Baker was above average recently. And he has less history being awful...why not him? His stuff isn't as electric, but he also hasn't been nearly as bad as Liriano has been.

      And despite your usual over-the-top schtick, "realiable awfulness" is exactly what Liriano ISN'T. Inconsistent? Yes. But he's always had flashes of brilliance, even in his bad seasons. I certainly don't know if he can become consistent, but I'd much rather gamble on that than gamble on something that you already know won't ever be better than 'decent.'
      2009 and 2011 were awful. That's two out of the last three and then an awful start this year. And this year he has ranged from brutal to pretty good. Unfortunately, until Monday night, his pretty good starts had all been against offenses in the bottom five of the league. Maybe that was coincidence, but maybe not. No one is denying that Frankie has talent. But you basically want to give him guaranteed money out of nothing more than hope. I find that to be a pretty poor way to operate a baseball team.
    1. Winston Smith's Avatar
      Winston Smith -
      CC and Pettit both go on the DL today, perfect time to get max out of Frankie, after a very good start and a team in need with assets. Ryan call the Yankees today!
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Winston Smith View Post
      CC and Pettit both go on the DL today, perfect time to get max out of Frankie, after a very good start and a team in need with assets. Ryan call the Yankees today!
      Well, that's certainly intriguing.
    1. Parker Hageman's Avatar
      Parker Hageman -
      I also find it interesting that I write about Daniel Hudson and today we learn that his UCL has crapped out.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Parker Hageman View Post
      I also find it interesting that I write about Daniel Hudson and today we learn that his UCL has crapped out.
      Gotta write about Verlander, Cabrera (both the drunk and Assdribble), Fielder, miscallenous WSux players, etc... keep it to the division
    1. Dilligaf69's Avatar
      Dilligaf69 -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinswon1991 View Post
      There is zero chance Frankie signs with the Twins long term. What can the Twins offer: a losing team, terrible pitching coach and a medical staff that causes more injuries than they prevent.

      Frankie must be traded but sadly the game has passed Terry Ryan by and he will sit around and lose him with zero compensatio.

      C'mon really????
    1. Dilligaf69's Avatar
      Dilligaf69 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Parker Hageman View Post
      I also find it interesting that I write about Daniel Hudson and today we learn that his UCL has crapped out.

      Oh i thought only the Twins med staff was incompetent and cause UCL injuries, maybe the D backs hired a former Twins trainer and it's his fault.
    1. 70charger's Avatar
      70charger -
      Quick question - I've heard a lot about how Liriano is unlikely to return to the Twins unless the team throws big money at him. Why is that? Is this an assumption being made because the Twins aren't a good team at the moment? But what if you walk and your options end up being the Cubs and Mariners?

      Unless a winning team has expressed a desire for Liriano, or Liriano has expressed a desire to go to a winning team at a discount, about the only other thing I can think of is that he doesn't want to be a Twin anymore. Do we know this for sure? If so, trade him for sure.
    1. Dilligaf69's Avatar
      Dilligaf69 -
      I would'nt hate a 2-3 yr deal, what's he making this yr...$10 mil. 2yr/$22 mil or 3/$30, they have about $20 mil or so coming off don't they?? If the Jays are really interested in Justin that's another $13 mil even if the Twins eat a 1/3rd of his salary for next yr that's still plenty of $$ fo a FA starter. It also allows Parm to actually play, I'm not saying i want to trade Morneau but it makes sense if your trying to rebuild your rotation and FA or trade will get it done not waiting for the young kids. Span is another $5 mil off the books if you can trade him.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      Baker was above average recently. And he has less history being awful...why not him? His stuff isn't as electric, but he also hasn't been nearly as bad as Liriano has been.
      Baker had TJ a couple months ago. There's no guarantee he will even pitch in the major leagues in 2013, and if he does, the chances he resembles his former self in his first year back are extremely low. Baker is also under a team option for 2013, and the chances the Twins pick that up are next to zero. Maybe he signs for significantly less, but if (when) the Twins decline that option, he's no longer under their control.
    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      I would love Terry Ryan's Job... At least I think I would... Maybe it has a private hell that the public doesn't see.

      If I had Terry Ryan's Job... Liriano would be keeping me awake at night. His inconsistency has been too great but his stuff is also great. The Twins desperately need pitching and if you are searching for arms and need to try arms out looking for gems. Liriano fits that mold. But, Liriano is just too big a risk based on how bad he gets in long stretches.

      More time is needed to make this call. Right now... I wouldn't bring him back... If he's still pitching like this in August. I'd still have to drive a knife through my eyeball fretting over it.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      I saw 1 person say "trade him for anything", and a whole lot (lost count) saying to trade him for value. Whatever, i"m not interested in a back and forth argument. Most rational fans want players traded for something of value. And, in this case, I'd agree. This team is bad, really, really bad. It was really, really bad last year. They are not the kind of team to go out and get big time expensive players in trade or FA, so to me, the most likely path for this particular GM and ownership group is to trade veterans for young guys. IF I thought they'd sign a Greinke, or trade for that type of player, maybe you keep Liriano. But I just don't see it.

      I'm baffled that anyone thinks Baker is a realistic option for next year, given that he just had TJ surgery. That's the part of this thread that confuses me.
    1. Mchans24's Avatar
      Mchans24 -
      Has anyone else noticed that Frankie has actually stopped listening to Anderson? His motion has become much more like it was before he got hurt. It is much more violent again which explains the nasty bite on the slider and his average fastball sitting at 92-94 instead of 89-91. With all that being said, someone will overpay for Liriano especially if he has five more good starts leading up to the deadline. Take what you can now, like you should have done when Delmon Young had his best year!!
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      Baker had TJ a couple months ago. There's no guarantee he will even pitch in the major leagues in 2013, and if he does, the chances he resembles his former self in his first year back are extremely low. Baker is also under a team option for 2013, and the chances the Twins pick that up are next to zero. Maybe he signs for significantly less, but if (when) the Twins decline that option, he's no longer under their control.
      The team could reject the option and sign a different extension. But your points on why he is a risk are valid, however the problem is that none of these arguments are all that much more convincing than the same I'm making against Liriano. Yes, Baker is likely to be a mystery next year with a good chance of being a bad investment. But in that second year, like some other starters who have had TJ, he could be even better than he has been. (And he's been better than people think) But as you say....why not risk a little money on that? The difference, in my eyes with Baker, is that he hasn't been nearly as awful as Liriano has been prone to being.

      Just to put it in context, there were only 9 pitchers with a worse ERA in 2011 than Liriano with more than 120 IP. Only 12 with a worse WHIP. His K/BB ratio was only .08 better than Nick friggin Blackburn. His most comparable current pitcher is Dice-K over his current career. I can go on. We're not "idiots" for wanting to avoid giving our personal Dice-K a guaranteed 40 million. He'll have some value, let's cash in on it.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dilligaf69 View Post
      I would'nt hate a 2-3 yr deal, what's he making this yr...$10 mil. 2yr/$22 mil or 3/$30, they have about $20 mil or so coming off don't they?? If the Jays are really interested in Justin that's another $13 mil even if the Twins eat a 1/3rd of his salary for next yr that's still plenty of $$ fo a FA starter. It also allows Parm to actually play, I'm not saying i want to trade Morneau but it makes sense if your trying to rebuild your rotation and FA or trade will get it done not waiting for the young kids. Span is another $5 mil off the books if you can trade him.
      Liriano is making 5.5 million this year. I wouldn't give him 10 million a year, and I don't think he will get anywhere near that on the FA market, a 1 year/7 mil deal or 2/13 I would be interested in. But that is only because I always have this feeling he is due for an amazing run. Fool me once..etc I know, but I can't shake the feeling where he could just go lights out one year and lead a team to the playoffs.

      With that all said, if Grienke is unavailable or at least partially unavaible (won't goto a major market) Liriano very well could find himself as the best candidate on the block (Garza will cost a lot prospect wise), if you can get a nice prospect or two for him you don't hesitate for a second to pull the trigger. However if you are offered garbage maybe you keep him around and hope you can resign him?
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