The Minnesota Twins acquired Francisco Liriano asÂ a minor league pitcher, basically a throw-in when they shipped catcher A.J. Pierzynski to the San Francisco Giants for pitchers Boof Bonser and Joe Nathan.
Arm injuries aside, this was highway robbery by any measure of baseball trades.
Problem is, those types of trades don’t happen very often.
Minneapolis Star Tribune writer Joe Christensen penned an interesting commentary piece for the Strib that reports that Twins officials are pretty open to the idea of trading Liriano during spring training.
The rationale is two-fold from what I can tell: 1) The Twins have depth in their rotation (although we’ll get to that). 2) Liriano’s value might never be higher.
It is true that Liriano had an outstanding season in 2010. He won 14 games, posted an ERA of 3.62 and struck out 201 batters. From a “stuff” perspective, he’s the nastiest of the Twins starters.
However, trading Liriano would also mean, in my opinion, raising a white flag of sorts on 2011. Yeah, in the AL Central, there’s always an opportunity to contend. But handing rotation spots to disappointing starters like Kevin Slowey and Nick Blackburn – after having already handed starting jobs to middle infielders Tsuyoshi Nishioka and Alexi Casilla – adds to the team’s question marks.
Of course, trading Liriano means there would be a return. But what kind of return would the Twins get for him? Let’s remember he’s not that far removed from Tommy John surgery, and he posted an absolutely abysmal season in 2009.
The Twins are skeptical about his long-term future, but so is everyone else. If the Twins could get the kind of loaded prospect return that the Chicago Cubs gave to Tampa Bay to get Matt Garza, then maybe it’s worth it. But I’m not convinced that would be the case.
My opinion is the Twins are better off hanging onto Liriano – who is under team control through 2012 – until at least July and seeing where they are at in the division race.