Francisco Liriano is gone. Could Justin Morneau and Denard Span follow him out the door?
Liriano was predictably dealt on Saturday, as the Twins shipped their left-handed starter to the division-rival Chicago White Sox for a couple of minor leaguers.
Minnesota is at 42-58, just a game ahead of Kansas City in the battle for worst record in the American League. At 55-45, Chicago is trying to hold off Detroit and Cleveland for the AL Central division title.
Tuesday marks the non-waiver trade deadline, so the Twins still have two more days to shop some of their veteran players. Liriano was certainly no surprise. I named him most likely to be traded on WDAY radio just a couple weeks ago.
With only two months left until free agency, there was really no reason for the Twins to hold onto him, especially now with the compensation changes made in the latest collective bargaining agreement. Getting draft picks for departing free agents is much tougher to do.
The Twins didn’t get much for Liriano, but what could be expected when trying to trade two months’ worth of an all-too-often erratic starter? Minnesota received infielder Eduardo Escobar and pitcher Pedro Hernandez.
Escobar is a no-hit infielder that by some accounts does a nice job defensively. Hernandez has put up solid minor league numbers, though like so many Twins pitchers, he’s not a high-strikeout guy. Some say the Twins didn’t get much; others argue that they were lucky to get anything.
The big question is: Who will be next? Disabled list stints by pitchers Matt Capps and Carl Pavano complicate any potential deals, though both could be shipped prior to the Aug. 31 waiver trade deadline.
While Span has a reasonable contract and plays in a position of strength for the Twins’ organization, I actually think he’ll be on this team still on Aug. 1. He is only having an OK year and I think other teams are still wary of his previous concussion concerns of a year ago.
If the Twins do make any more deals before Tuesday, I think Morneau could be the next commodity moved.
The former AL MVP is hitting just .253 with 12 homers this year. But if used right on a contending team, Morneau can likely still put some nasty numbers. His season stats are being dragged down because of his struggles against southpaws. But his .306 average and .935 OPS against righties means that he can still be easily put in a position to succeed if the team acquiring Morneau has a right-handed hitter to platoon him with.
And Morneau – who is under contract through next season – has the pedigree of a left-handed hitter capable of hitting lefties too. As he continues to progress from the concussion issues that plagued him in late 2010 and throughout 2011, he can get better.