Francisco Liriano Interests Orioles, Others

Minneapolis, MN, USA: Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Francisco Liriano (47) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE

Francisco Liriano is a talented pitcher on a bad team, and so he's the subject of trade rumors with the deadline rapidly approaching.

Here's something you probably knew: the Minnesota Twins have the worst record in the American League. They were awful a year ago, and they've been similarly awful in 2012. Not a lot has gone right, outside of Josh Willingham and Trevor Plouffe. Actually, the offense has been fine. The pitching has been a disaster.

Here's something you might not have known: Twins starter Francisco Liriano is on track to become a free agent at the end of the year. He's 28 years old. He'll be 29 in October.

It makes sense, then, for the Twins to make Liriano available in a trade. And indeed, he is available, and he's attracted some attention. Jon Heyman:

The contending Orioles have broadened their pitching search to inquire about Bartolo Colon and Francisco Liriano since their chances at a high-end starter such as Zack Greinke may not be great.
[...]
Liriano has drawn interest from several teams, including the Angels, Blue Jays, Yankees and Red Sox, though his up-and-down performance may give some teams pause.

No starting pitcher in baseball has allowed a lower contact rate this season than Liriano. He is, as he has always been, incredibly talented, with the potential to do amazing things. A team would be trading for Liriano because the team wants strikeouts and ace-level ability. But Liriano also has a 5.31 ERA. Since returning to the Twins' rotation at the end of May, he's generated 79 strikeouts and 29 walks in 11 starts, but his most recent start against the White Sox was a disaster. Liriano's inconsistent. Famously so. Everybody's aware of that, and so his trade value isn't what it could be.

Liriano's going to be an interesting guy to watch before the deadline, and then still after it should he get moved. He'll be a high-risk/high-reward kind of acquisition in the vein of Erik Bedard a season ago. For two months he could be an ace, he could be a catastrophe, or he could be anything in between. I like him as an idea for the Orioles, but wherever he goes, if he goes, he could be a game-changer. In a good or bad way.

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