Francisco Liriano may be on the trading block just days after coming to agreement on a one-year, $4.3 million deal for the 2011 season.
The report from Joe Christensen of the Star Tribune may come as a surprise to many, but it may show some forward thinking on behalf of the organization.
After re-signing Carl Pavano to a two-year deal this offseason, the Twins now have six starters for five spots—Francisco Liriano, Carl Pavano, Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey, Nick Blackburn and Brian Duensing. This group may have some company with top minor league prospect Kyle Gibson all but ready to burst through this coming year.
Liriano, who has a history of elbow problems following his 2006 Tommy John surgery, is still under control of the Twins (with arbitration) through the 2012 season. With Liriano asking for a three year, $39 million deal, and the Twins payroll already bloated to $120 million, the time may be now to move him as his stock may never be higher.
Liriano is coming off a season where he went 14-10 with a 3.62 ERA over 191.2 innings.
Liriano would be a likely trade target for the New York Yankees after they whiffed on free agency this year after being unable to sign pitcher Cliff Lee.
The Twins would be looking for young arms to restock the farm club, and the Yankees would be able to abide.
The Yankees may be able to offer up a package around top pitching prospects Manny Banuelos and/or Dellin Betances, both of whom were rated by ESPN's Keith Law as Top 100 Prospects.
Should the Twins move Liriano, General Manager Bill Smith will need to make sure to get more for the 27 year old left-hander than they did when they moved Johan Santana following the 2007 season.
Smith's trade of Santana essentially turned into Carlos Gomez, who turned into one season of JJ Hardy, and now Jim Hoey, a hard throwing relief pitcher who has done little at the major league level so far.