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  • 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. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      So you believe that players approach free agency with the mindset of "Geez, I'm a sucky player just waiting to happen...better cash in quick!" That's the basis of your Liriano opinion? Because that's essentially what you're saying here. He'd accept the offer you propose because he and his agent know how possible/likely it is he'll be awful?

      I think I'll refer you back to this post's Edwin Jackson comp. Seems appropriate as one of many, many examples of how naive that thinking is, especially considering how many players walk into free agency believing they're much more valuable than they really are.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      So you believe that players approach free agency with the mindset of "Geez, I'm a sucky player just waiting to happen...better cash in quick!" That's the basis of your Liriano opinion? Because that's essentially what you're saying here. He'd accept the offer you propose because he and his agent know how possible/likely it is he'll be awful?
      I believe Albert Pujols and Francisco Liriano probably have different expectations for what might await them in free agency, yes.

      You, on the other hand, in the space of 2 months seem to have gone from "Liriano is worthless, dump him for anything you can get," to "why would he accept $24M guaranteed?".

      Because that's essentially what you're saying here.
    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      I believe Albert Pujols and Francisco Liriano probably have different expectations for what might await them in free agency, yes.

      You, on the other hand, in the space of 2 months seem to have gone from "Liriano is worthless, dump him for anything you can get," to "why would he accept $24M guaranteed?".

      Because that's essentially what you're saying here.
      Hey Chief... You typed 2 months... You meant 2 pages I assume.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by Riverbrian View Post
      Hey Chief... You typed 2 months... You meant 2 pages I assume.
      +1. 10char
    1. glunn's Avatar
      glunn -
      Potential aces are rare and hard to acquire. It seems to me that Chief's idea would make sense for both sides. I would prefer 2/$12 to 3/$24, but I don't think that 3/$24 would be ridiculous.

      From Liriano's point of view, there is a risk of injury and a risk of not doing well for the balance of this season. In either of these events, he could end up with much less than 2/$12. Or Liriano could be light out the rest of this season, in which case he would have given up an opportunity to make a lot more.

      From the Twins point of view, they might get an ace at a bargain price or they might get another Nick Blackburn type outcome.

      This is how deals get made in the business world when there is uncertainty -- both sides meet in the middle based on rational evaluations of their upsides and downsides. Considering the value of an ace (especially on the postseason), it seems like a risk that the Twins should consider. And considering that a shoulder injury could cause Liriano's best offer as a free agent to be 0/$0, he and his agent would be fools not to at least listen.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      I believe Albert Pujols and Francisco Liriano probably have different expectations for what might await them in free agency, yes.

      You, on the other hand, in the space of 2 months seem to have gone from "Liriano is worthless, dump him for anything you can get," to "why would he accept $24M guaranteed?".

      Because that's essentially what you're saying here.
      Mighty fine scarecrow Dorothy. Just because we know he's worthless, doesn't mean he will. Free agency is littered with guys that arrogantly thought they were worth more than they were. The only reason it "makes sense" for both sides to sign this kind of a deal is because you're projecting a rational, balanced take on to Liriano.

      Players imagine their own worth much higher than is deserved - and almost always higher than hope-filled message board scenarios. My opinion hasn't changed at all - dump him in July. His career as a Twin is done and thankfully so. I'd prefer not to toss three year extensions to guys that are in the bottom ten of starting pitching as often as he has been. The pipe-dream "ace" stuff is pretty silly when you take the time to look at 2009 and 2011. Hell, 2012 too, even with this nice run.
    1. twinswon1991's Avatar
      twinswon1991 -
      If Liriano's agent allows him to resign with the Twins he is a moron. He should take less money and go to a team with a decent pitching coach. Look at all the guys with less talent than Frankie who have left Anderson to get realcoaching to prosper. A Duncan, Maddox, Cooper type coach could turn Frankie into a 15 mil a year pitcher over 4 years.

      Also, why take the risk of working with clueless medical staff should he have even some minor pain? He is looking at one more nice contract in his career and he cant afford to blowing due to an assessment by Dr. Larry, Curley or Moe.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinswon1991 View Post
      Look at all the guys with less talent than Frankie who have left Anderson to get realcoaching to prosper.
      And who might these people be?

      Oh, right. Eric Milton, Kevin Slowey, Joe Mays, Carlos Silva, Pat Neshek, Matt Guerrier, Mark Redman... They all lit up the world after leaving the Twins.

      Jesse Crain was good with the Twins once he started throwing harder again. That continued after his signing with the Sox. Lohse was an up-and-down pitcher with the Twins. He's a marginally better up-and-down pitcher since that point... In the National League.

      You've got RA Dickey and...

      RA Dickey. A journeyman who bounced between so many teams that it's obvious something just clicked with him one day and he suddenly figured out the knuckleball, an almost unteachable pitch.
    1. twinswon1991's Avatar
      twinswon1991 -
      You can build a decent rotation right now using guys that Andy couldnt help who went on to much better success elsewhere:

      Dicky, Lohse, Humber, Garza, even gawd awful Marquis found a coach to fix a flaw in his delivery where he may stick in the bigs and earn money the rest of the year.
    1. CDog's Avatar
      CDog -
      Quote Originally Posted by rocketpig View Post
      RA Dickey. A journeyman who bounced between so many teams that it's obvious something just clicked with him one day and he suddenly figured out the knuckleball, an almost unteachable pitch.
      I've wondered a few times over the last couple months as he's been lighting up the world if it's closer to what you describe or was more of a gradual thing that just took him time and reps and tinkering to pefect. I saw they did a feature on him on ESPN recently where it looked like he was talking a lot about how he throws it, etc, but I was somewhere with picture but no sound. Did anyone see that and did it shed any light?

      Apologies for any thread hijacking.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinswon1991 View Post
      You can build a decent rotation right now using guys that Andy couldnt help who went on to much better success elsewhere:

      Dicky, Lohse, Humber, Garza, even gawd awful Marquis found a coach to fix a flaw in his delivery where he may stick in the bigs and earn money the rest of the year.
      Philip Humber pitched 20 innings over two seasons with Minnesota. Yeah, damn Anderson for not doing more with the kid. Wait, what?

      Garza was a good pitcher with the Twins. He had a 117 ERA+ the year he was traded. His career ERA+? 109.

      Dickey was an aberration. Anyone with an objective viewpoint can see that. He struggled with how many teams before figuring it out with the Mets?

      Lohse has had a marginal career as a decent middle-to-back of the rotation NL starter. He's not any better away from the Twins than he was with them. With the Twins, he had almost exactly a 100 ERA+. His career ERA+ is 96.

      Jason Marquis has pitched 26 innings for the Padres.

      You're not very good at this.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by CDog View Post
      I've wondered a few times over the last couple months as he's been lighting up the world if it's closer to what you describe or was more of a gradual thing that just took him time and reps and tinkering to pefect. I saw they did a feature on him on ESPN recently where it looked like he was talking a lot about how he throws it, etc, but I was somewhere with picture but no sound. Did anyone see that and did it shed any light?

      Apologies for any thread hijacking.
      Probably six of one, half dozen of the other. He's been good for the Mets for what, 2 1/2 seasons now? Knuckleballers are fickle beasts. Most don't ever figure it out. Dickey did. It's hard to give the Mets much credit for that or blame any previous teams for not pulling it off.
    1. CDog's Avatar
      CDog -
      Quote Originally Posted by rocketpig View Post
      Probably six of one, half dozen of the other. He's been good for the Mets for what, 2 1/2 seasons now? Knuckleballers are fickle beasts. Most don't ever figure it out. Dickey did. It's hard to give the Mets much credit for that or blame any previous teams for not pulling it off.
      Agree on all counts. Has been more of a curiosity of how exactly the evolution took place because it's rather a fantastic story (probably at least in part because for some reason I can't put my finger on given the limited information, I always felt like I liked him as a person).
    1. twinswon1991's Avatar
      twinswon1991 -
      Quote Originally Posted by rocketpig View Post
      Philip Humber pitched 20 innings over two seasons with Minnesota. Yeah, damn Anderson for not doing more with the kid. Wait, what?

      Garza was a good pitcher with the Twins. He had a 117 ERA+ the year he was traded. His career ERA+? 109.

      Dickey was an aberration. Anyone with an objective viewpoint can see that. He struggled with how many teams before figuring it out with the Mets?

      Lohse has had a marginal career as a decent middle-to-back of the rotation NL starter. He's not any better away from the Twins than he was with them. With the Twins, he had almost exactly a 100 ERA+. His career ERA+ is 96.

      Jason Marquis has pitched 26 innings for the Padres.

      You're not very good at this.
      Except for Garza all of these guys looked to be headed out pf baseball when Andy was done with them. Name one SP he has coached up? Thank goodness Diamond was sent to AAA to get fixed and good thing Frankie went back to the slider and old arm slot despite Andy's wishes
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinswon1991 View Post
      Except for Garza all of these guys looked to be headed out pf baseball when Andy was done with them. Name one SP he has coached up? Thank goodness Diamond was sent to AAA to get ixed and good thing Frankie went back to the slider and old arm slot despite Andy's wishes
      Andy never had Humber in the first place. 20 innings. That's what he pitched with Minnesota. Blame the front office all you want but Anderson cannot be blamed for Humber. And let's not overlook the fact that one Mr. Philip Humber has been absolutely awful this season.

      Lohse did not look like he was on his way out of baseball. In his last full season before the trade, he had an ERA+ of 106. That's quite a bit better than his career average. Yeah, he was bad right before the trade but he had only logged 60 innings that year. He performed even worse than that season in 2010 with St. Louis. He's an up-and-down pitcher who is basically the same guy away from Minnesota that he was with Minnesota.

      I'm not the one claiming Anderson is God's gift to pitching. You're the one claiming that he's awful. I don't have to show examples where he's taken a pitcher off the scrap heap (Burton), whereas you have to back up the claim that a lengthy list of pitchers have left Minnesota and achieved greatness (or even mediocrity).

      Except you can't do that. Because it's not true.
    1. biggentleben's Avatar
      biggentleben -
      Quote Originally Posted by CDog View Post
      Agree on all counts. Has been more of a curiosity of how exactly the evolution took place because it's rather a fantastic story (probably at least in part because for some reason I can't put my finger on given the limited information, I always felt like I liked him as a person).
      Not to further the hijacking or anything, but read his book, and you'll very quickly figure out why you like him as a person. He is a very likable person.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by biggentleben View Post
      Not to further the hijacking or anything, but read his book, and you'll very quickly figure out why you like him as a person. He is a very likable person.
      Plus, his name is RA Dickey. Who doesn't love a guy named RA Dickey?
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      Mighty fine scarecrow Dorothy. Just because we know he's worthless, doesn't mean he will. Free agency is littered with guys that arrogantly thought they were worth more than they were. The only reason it "makes sense" for both sides to sign this kind of a deal is because you're projecting a rational, balanced take on to Liriano.

      Players imagine their own worth much higher than is deserved - and almost always higher than hope-filled message board scenarios. My opinion hasn't changed at all - dump him in July. His career as a Twin is done and thankfully so. I'd prefer not to toss three year extensions to guys that are in the bottom ten of starting pitching as often as he has been. The pipe-dream "ace" stuff is pretty silly when you take the time to look at 2009 and 2011. Hell, 2012 too, even with this nice run.
      I see your point. The Twins are so loaded with starting pitching talent at every level, they should endeavor to rid themselves of some of it at any cost.

      BTW...Liriano is easily the Twins second best starter in 2012, even with his horrendous start.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      I see your point. The Twins are so loaded with starting pitching talent at every level, they should endeavor to rid themselves of some of it at any cost.

      BTW...Liriano is easily the Twins second best starter in 2012, even with his horrendous start.
      Yeah, our pitching is bad. I can see your point - let's toss a couple ten million dollars at one of the key cogs in that awful portion of our team. Makes sense.

      I'm sure his recent past performances indicate your position better. Right?
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by rocketpig View Post
      Philip Humber pitched 20 innings over two seasons with Minnesota. Yeah, damn Anderson for not doing more with the kid. Wait, what?

      Garza was a good pitcher with the Twins. He had a 117 ERA+ the year he was traded. His career ERA+? 109.

      Dickey was an aberration. Anyone with an objective viewpoint can see that. He struggled with how many teams before figuring it out with the Mets?

      Lohse has had a marginal career as a decent middle-to-back of the rotation NL starter. He's not any better away from the Twins than he was with them. With the Twins, he had almost exactly a 100 ERA+. His career ERA+ is 96.

      Jason Marquis has pitched 26 innings for the Padres.

      You're not very good at this.
      Are we talking about the same Phillip Humber that has a 6.01 ERA this year? Yes, damn the Twins for not teaching him that!

      Dickey shouldn't be in the conversation at all, its literally a once in a lifetime scenario and he was a emergency starter for a playoff team when he was with the Twins, there was literally no space for him. A rebuilding team like the Mets did have space for him eventually, then magically he figured out how to master the knuckleball. It's a great baseball story, and the Twins can't take any blame for letting him go at the time. It's just a case of wrong place/wrong time for them.

      Marquis sucks and is a 5th starter for a NL team like he has always been. His results in the AL while disappointing were not shocking.

      Lohse is an NL baby, don't make me post the NL/AL pitching comic again.
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