• 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. biggentleben's Avatar
      biggentleben -
      Quote Originally Posted by mini_tb View Post
      How do the injuries to the Yankees lefty starters, Sabathia (groin) and Pettitte (ankle), affect Liriano's trade value? Freddy Garcia and David Phelps do not sound like a Yankees-like solution to me. Sabathia may only miss a few starts, but 6+ weeks on 245 year old Pettitte does not sound good.

      The Braves as a trade partner also make me curious. The only lefty in their rotation, Mike Minor, has been flat out terrible, so I would think they would not mind trading for a southpaw starter. With Minor, Jurrjens, Delgado, and Teheran (in AAA) largely ineffective, and their best starter, Brandon Beachy, out for a year+ with TJ surgery, Frank Wren and company have got to be on the lookout for an impact starter or 2 to try to send Chipper Jones out in style.

      In fact, the only reliable starters they have left are Tommy Hanson and Tim Hudson. Hanson has had his shoulder woes last year, so he's not a given down the stretch. And Hudson's already been out with a bad back and a bad ankle this season.

      I wonder if the Twins could manage to pry away 1 of Teheran, Minor, or Delgado in a Liriano trade... Any thoughts there?

      The Braves also make an interesting trade target for the Twins because their centerfielder, Michael Bourn, is a free agent at the end of the season. His services will be costly to retain. He is a Scott Boras client, and he is likely to get too much money and too many years for an aging speed guy with fringy on base skills. Liberty Media keeps the Braves' payroll pretty low, and they don't seem to have much of a backup plan waiting in the wings to replace Bourn. Could they be interested in one of Span, Revere, or even Aaron Hicks as a CF replacement?

      Thoughts on any of this?
      No way that Delgado or Teheran are part of any deal for Liriano. The Braves are VERY tight on funds, so it is highly doubtful they could afford to take on all of Liriano without some cash coming back in the deal. The Braves do have a good chunk of funds available for 2013 and beyond, but they also have one of the youngest rosters in all of MLB, so they will likely be doing some extending of current options before opening their checkbook in the offseason. Span would make a lot of sense in the offseason as a trade, and the Braves may even be looking to move a guy like Hanson in the right deal (if the Twins were looking more toward a front-end starter). For right now, Span is a tough sell midseason unless it's a very nice deal for the Braves in some way, shape, or form.
    1. biggentleben's Avatar
      biggentleben -
      Quote Originally Posted by StormJH1 View Post
      I keep hearing about all these teams that need a center-fielder, and how Span is the top guy, but is he really? What about Peter Bourjos on the Angels? They have a terrible log-jam in the outfield, and Bourjos is the odd man out. He also just turned 25, is probably a better defensive center fielder than Span, and also a more reliable stolen base threat (Span looks like he's going to get picked off every time he's on base). True, Span is more of a ready-made leadoff hitter, but I think Bourjos fills a lot of those defensive concerns at what would likely be a more reasonable price, and he's younger and doesn't have the concussion issues.
      Span would make a lot more sense for the Braves, at least because he's basically a lite version of what they'd be replacing - leadoff guy, excellent defense.
    1. twinswon1991's Avatar
      twinswon1991 -
      Quote Originally Posted by biggentleben View Post
      Span would make a lot more sense for the Braves, at least because he's basically a lite version of what they'd be replacing - leadoff guy, excellent defense.

      Add Gerrardo Parra to Bourjos as tradeable CF that are better and or younger than Span. We need to temper our expectations in trading Span. I would be happy with an A ball hard throwing SP prospect as a return since it looks like the Twins are 3 YEARS from being competitive.
    1. chopper0080's Avatar
      chopper0080 -
      A couple of points...

      1: I highly doubt Liriano or his agent would accept an extention by the Twins. They see his value as rising right now, and pitchers tend to do very well in the free agent marketplace. Also, they know if the Twins don't trade him they are planning to make him a qualifying offer, so it's really a no lose situation from his standpoint.

      2: As far as the return for Liriano, I think we have to realize the most likely option is probably a high end, low A pitcher or a mid range AA/AAA pitcher. I would be fine with either. We are rebuilding, and the last thing a rebuilding team should do is take a high doller risk on an inconsistant player rather than upgrading their minor league talent pool.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by biggentleben View Post
      This is where terminology gets in the way (and I apologize if someone else has already made this, but I responded after enough comments with incorrect terminology were confusing folks). "Arbitration" to free agents is gone. Period. There is a qualifying offer now, which is basically accepted or denied, and that offer must be "at least" the amount of the average of the 125 highest paid players. It's a flat offer, not an arbitration-type offer. The player has an actual one-year contract offer in place. If the player accepts, he can play just for that contract, or he can negotiate further for a long-term deal with just that team. If he denies, he's open season for anyone, including his previous team.

      The big thing everyone needs to be aware of is that any upcoming free agent will get MUCH, MUCH less in trade offers because no longer will a team be able to acquire a player mid-season and get a compensatory pick. The player must be on the team for the entire season in order to get any compensation pick, so a guy like Liriano that will be a free agent this year will get much, much less in trade than a guy like Garza who still has a full year of contract/arbitration left for a team to control and then get a pick.
      That all really depends if they are willing to keep that guy around... Let's pretend for a second that April didn't happen. If Liriano was like he is now all season long, I can pretty much guarantee you that whatever team has him at free agency would be more than happy to submit a qualifying offer. You are correct in that this can lower value, simply from the standpoint that teams don't have as much incentive to hold on to the guy if they don't plan on offering 12.4M or whatever it is... In Minnesota's case, they have the resources, so they can bluff... teams like KC and Pittsburg though do not.
    1. biggentleben's Avatar
      biggentleben -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      That all really depends if they are willing to keep that guy around... Let's pretend for a second that April didn't happen. If Liriano was like he is now all season long, I can pretty much guarantee you that whatever team has him at free agency would be more than happy to submit a qualifying offer. You are correct in that this can lower value, simply from the standpoint that teams don't have as much incentive to hold on to the guy if they don't plan on offering 12.4M or whatever it is... In Minnesota's case, they have the resources, so they can bluff... teams like KC and Pittsburg though do not.

      The value in rentals in the past was that even if they didn't resign with you, you got two picks for them. Now a team trading for a rental gets no picks at all, because they cannot offer a qualifying offer if he's not on the team to start the season. So a rental player under the new CBA is very, very devalued in trades.
    1. biggentleben's Avatar
      biggentleben -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinswon1991 View Post
      Add Gerrardo Parra to Bourjos as tradeable CF that are better and or younger than Span. We need to temper our expectations in trading Span. I would be happy with an A ball hard throwing SP prospect as a return since it looks like the Twins are 3 YEARS from being competitive.
      Okay, but neither of those guys would fit with the Braves whatsoever.
    1. shs_59's Avatar
      shs_59 -
      My DREAM scenerio:

      Since we know they're always awfully interested. Seattle Mariners
      No, they're not in contention this year.
      But that doesn't mean they won't want him, Michael Pineda is a Yank, and hurt.

      Nick Franklin their AA / AAA SS....... I'd take him and him alone for Liriano and, not Dozier, but maybe Casilla.

      Do it TR see if they'll bite? Terry Ryan & F.O. Need to explore many many options out there just like this one, they're phone lines should be put to use.
    1. biggentleben's Avatar
      biggentleben -
      Quote Originally Posted by shs_59 View Post
      My DREAM scenerio:

      Since we know they're always awfully interested. Seattle Mariners
      No, they're not in contention this year.
      But that doesn't mean they won't want him, Michael Pineda is a Yank, and hurt.

      Nick Franklin their AA / AAA SS....... I'd take him and him alone for Liriano and, not Dozier, but maybe Casilla.

      Do it TR see if they'll bite? Terry Ryan & F.O. Need to explore many many options out there just like this one, they're phone lines should be put to use.
      The Mariners have the best group of minor league pitchers outside Arizona. No reason at all to consider Liriano, let alone send over anything of value.
    1. SweetOne69's Avatar
      SweetOne69 -
      Quote Originally Posted by chopper0080 View Post
      A couple of points...

      1: I highly doubt Liriano or his agent would accept an extention by the Twins. They see his value as rising right now, and pitchers tend to do very well in the free agent marketplace. Also, they know if the Twins don't trade him they are planning to make him a qualifying offer, so it's really a no lose situation from his standpoint.
      I'm sure Liriano and his Agent are praying that the Twins make him a qualifying offer as he will accept it before the ink dries.

      There is no way that the Twins are going to make Liriano a qualifying offer of $12M+.
    1. twinswon1991's Avatar
      twinswon1991 -
      Quote Originally Posted by biggentleben View Post
      Okay, but neither of those guys would fit with the Braves whatsoever.
      Parra is cheaper and a better overall player than Span so I don't know why he wouldnt be a fit. Is it just because he isnt a full-time starter? Span would only be a defensive replacement for the snakes.
    1. biggentleben's Avatar
      biggentleben -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinswon1991 View Post
      Parra is cheaper and a better overall player than Span so I don't know why he wouldnt be a fit. Is it just because he isnt a full-time starter? Span would only be a defensive replacement for the snakes.
      The Braves will be looking for a good defender who can leadoff. That's their main priority. Parra cannot leadoff, and neither can Bourjos. That's why neither would be a fit for the Braves, but Span would.
    1. twinswon1991's Avatar
      twinswon1991 -
      Quote Originally Posted by biggentleben View Post
      The Braves will be looking for a good defender who can leadoff. That's their main priority. Parra cannot leadoff, and neither can Bourjos. That's why neither would be a fit for the Braves, but Span would.

      Sorry buddy but you apparently are not familiar with baseball outside of what the FSN homers spew. Go to fangraphs and compare them. Parra has a higher obp, more stolen bases and is a gold glove centerfielder not just a good one. Like I said Span is fine but he couldnt hold Parra' jock.

      Add in the salary difference and concussion issues Parra is far more valuable.
    1. biggentleben's Avatar
      biggentleben -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinswon1991 View Post
      Sorry buddy but you apparently are not familiar with baseball outside of what the FSN homers spew. Go to fangraphs and compare them. Parra has a higher obp, more stolen bases and is a gold glove centerfielder not just a good one. Like I said Span is fine but he couldnt hold Parra' jock.

      Add in the salary difference and concussion issues Parra is far more valuable.
      LOL! My favorite team doesn't even play on FSN, so you may want to reconsider that statement. I've seen Parra for years. He's never won a Gold Glove as a CF. He looks amazing in left, and he's certainly above average in CF, but he's not THAT elite. Brett Gardner is a similar player. He looks elite in left, but he'd be simply an above-average CF. Span is a leadoff type of hitter. In the NL, Parra is a #2 or #8 hitter, not a leadoff type. Also, BRef's dWAR (which isn't perfect by any means) has Span as worth 2.3 WAR defensively the last two seasons while Parra has been worth 1.6 WAR in similar games. Span steals twice as many bases per 162 and has 20 points of OBP on Parra in their careers, so not sure what you're talking about. If you're enjoying small sample sizes, then sure, you can compare 3 months versus entire careers. They're similar value players, but Span is a better leadoff type.
    1. twinswon1991's Avatar
      twinswon1991 -
      You cant look at Spans peak years and compare them to the player he is today....not the same. SPAn is on the way down and Parra is rising. Span would not be a leadoff hitter on a good team team. Your logic in saying Span is the better leadoff hitter because he is doing it now is flawed. Gardy pencils him in there....big deal. Gardy used to bat Redmond 3RD beacause it was the "catchers spot".
    1. biggentleben's Avatar
      biggentleben -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinswon1991 View Post
      You cant look at Spans peak years and compare them to the player he is today....not the same. SPAn is on the way down and Parra is rising. Span would not be a leadoff hitter on a good team team. Your logic in saying Span is the better leadoff hitter because he is doing it now is flawed. Gardy pencils him in there....big deal. Gardy used to bat Redmond 3RD beacause it was the "catchers spot".
      No response to the defense, huh?

      I'm not assuming that he's a leadoff guy because Gardy puts him there, but you can assume that all you'd like. For as much attention as I pay to each Twins box score, he could be batting 9th for all I worry. I've seen what his numbers have been all season. For your comparison, THIS season, Parra and Span have identical 1.8 fWAR numbers.

      You're obviously anti-Span, so I'll leave the back and forth at that, but you may be surprised how Span is valued around the league.
    1. twinswon1991's Avatar
      twinswon1991 -
      Span has value, they are basically equal except defense where Parra is superior. To other teams the age, contract, concussions etc are HUGE and make all the difference.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by biggentleben View Post
      The value in rentals in the past was that even if they didn't resign with you, you got two picks for them. Now a team trading for a rental gets no picks at all, because they cannot offer a qualifying offer if he's not on the team to start the season. So a rental player under the new CBA is very, very devalued in trades.
      I missed that in the new CBA... good to know.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinswon1991 View Post
      SPAn is on the way down and Parra is rising. Span would not be a leadoff hitter on a good team team. Your logic in saying Span is the better leadoff hitter because he is doing it now is flawed. Gardy pencils him in there....big deal. Gardy used to bat Redmond 3RD beacause it was the "catchers spot".
      Did he beat you up and steal your lunch money as a kid?

      1) He's not "on his way down", he's in his prime. He's 28 years old, established, and having a pretty good year. Yes, Parra is 3 years younger, but that makes him more expensive too.

      2) He gives teams something that's hard to find, and Parra does not. (good leadoff guy)

      3) He plays well above average defense at a critical defensive position. Parra does this as well.

      4) He's also a above average hitter for the same position, as is Parra, but he's lacking the leadoff OBP skills Span has.

      5) Both are cheap, though Span is cost controlled.

      I'm not saying that Parra isn't valuable, but let's be realistic... this is hardly a slam dunk. Parra has been in the league one less year, so it isn't as if Parra is somehow massively cheaper... He's just a year behind in the arb process, and his main comparable is likely Denard Span. They are very similar players. Due to his age and this little problem that he Arizona franchize is on the rise and that they might still consider themselves as contenders, Parra is going to cost a lot more, and he has more question marks to go with it. I doubt he gets moved anytime soon unless AZ gets an absolute haul.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by chopper0080 View Post
      A couple of points...

      1: I highly doubt Liriano or his agent would accept an extention by the Twins. They see his value as rising right now, and pitchers tend to do very well in the free agent marketplace. Also, they know if the Twins don't trade him they are planning to make him a qualifying offer, so it's really a no lose situation from his standpoint.

      2: As far as the return for Liriano, I think we have to realize the most likely option is probably a high end, low A pitcher or a mid range AA/AAA pitcher. I would be fine with either. We are rebuilding, and the last thing a rebuilding team should do is take a high doller risk on an inconsistant player rather than upgrading their minor league talent pool.
      I, on the otherhand, think Liriano or his agent would jump at something like 3/$24. He's only 6 six starts into a return from losing his starting spot. He wasn't very good last year. Were he to implode again (and even I, someone who wants him signed to an extension, acknowledge that's entirely possible), he wouldn't sniff anything like those numbers. A 3 yr extension at around these numbers seems to me a pretty fair offer from the Twins, and balances the risk slightly in Liriano's favor. If he harnesses his talent, he'll be underpaid a little. On the otherhand, if he reverts back to awful, he's gotten one pretty decent payday that sets him up for life, and the Twins are stuck with a bad contract, but one that doesn't cripple them.

      But it has to be done now, for both sides. If you wait till winter, one side or the other ain't gonna like that deal.
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