Why Francisco Liriano Makes Sense for the Blue Jays
Both the Blue Jays' starting rotation and bullpen have been devastated by injuries this season, so it is logical to assume general manager Alex Anthopoulos would like to add a proven pitcher to the team's 25-man roster before the trade deadline.
The validity of this assumption is only bolstered by the fact that the Jays have somehow remained in wild-card contention despite the hard luck, sitting just 1.5 games out of the American's League's final playoff spot.
Enter Francisco Liriano.
Liriano may not be the hottest name on the market—that accolade falls to Cole Hamels. And there is no shortage of alternatives beyond Hamels. All of Zack Greinke, Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster and Jason Vargas could conceivably be dealt by the end of the month.
So, why target Liriano?
First, Liriano would command a price that is only a fraction of what teams will need to shell out to land any of the big names on the trading block. Considering that seven teams in the AL stand between Toronto and the second wild-card spot, spending big is a very risky proposition.
The risk associated with acquiring one of the top available pitchers only multiplies when we consider that each of Hamels, Greinke and Dempster will hit the free-agent market this winter.
All this adds up to a very possible scenario that no Jays fan would want: top prospects dealt, playoffs missed, trade acquisition bolts after just three months with the team.
Liriano, on the other hand, likely would not force the Jays to part with any top prospects. And though Liriano is a free agent this offseason, he will command a much smaller commitment in both dollars and years than Hamels, Greinke or Dempster.
Furthermore, few hurlers around the league are as hot as Liriano is right now. Over his last 57.1 innings pitched, the Minnesota Twin has posted a 2.83 ERA.
While Liriano may not increase Toronto's playoff chances to the same degree Hamels, Greinke or Dempster would, the worst-case scenario associated with him is: missed playoffs, leaves the team this winter.
Liriano therefore embodies the best of both worlds: immediate improvement without causing detriment to future team development.
Toronto needs pitching help, and it can find it without mortgaging the team's future for three months of service from a midseason acquisition.
Acquiring Liriano would be what we call a win-win.
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