The baseball rumor mill is churning with the idea that the Minnesota Twins might be willing to trade Francisco Liriano, who is their best starting pitcher, and that the New York Yankees are at the front of the line among teams who are interested.
All of which begs two questions. First, what are the Twins — a contending team — thinking? Liriano, a 26-year-old left-hander, is the ace of their staff following a 2010 season that saw him go 14-10 with a 3.62 ERA in a career-high 191.2 innings. Liriano came close to reaching the promise he showed back in 2006, when he went 12-3, 2.16 before suffering an elbow injury.
As SB Nation’s Rob Neyer simply and eloquently put it “The Twins sort of need Francisco Liriano, don’t they?”
An article in ‘Hardball Talk’ indicates that there have been some issues between Liriano and the Twins this spring, but Aaron Gleeman points out the Twins may be undervaluing Liriano. This also seems to be Neyer’s point — the Twins may simply not understand his importance to their staff.
The second question, and the one far more important to Yankees fans, is what would you give up to acquire Liriano? Keep in mind, this guy might immediately become the No. 2 guy on your pitching staff, jumping in front of both Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett.
The rumor mill has the Yankees building packages around either young potential starting pitcher Ivan Nova or around Joba Chamberlain, whose value as a trade chip might be greater to the Yankees than his value as a member of the pitching staff.
How much more would you give up in a package for Liriano, Yankee fans? He is a guy who makes the 2011 Yankees much better, but no way is he a guy I would give up any of the Yankees’ highly-touted young pitchers — Dellin Betances, Manny Bauelos or Andrew Brackman. I can’t see the Yankees including the crown jewel of their system, Jesus Montero, for Liriano, either. A deal would have to be made with lower-level prospects.