It turns out that Francisco Liriano’s stint as a reliever won’t even last three weeks.
On the heels of Anthony Swarzak being knocked around for six runs over just 3 1/3 innings last night against the Tigers, the Twins will move Liriano back into the starting rotation Wednesday against the Athletics.
Liriano was removed from the rotation earlier this month after beginning the season 0-5 with a 9.45 ERA and 21/19 K/BB ratio over six starts. He wasn’t much better out of the bullpen, posting a 4.91 ERA and 9/7 K/BB ratio over 7 1/3 innings, but Twins manager Ron Gardenhire told Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com that he hopes the southpaw can add some stability to a rotation which has experienced quite a bit of turnover recently.
“We liked the way he was handling himself out there, and he needs to get back out there,” Gardenhire said. “We need him in our rotation. We can’t just keep bouncing around from guy to guy.”
Liriano has a 5.77 ERA over 168 1/3 innings dating back to the start of the 2011 season, so there’s not much optimism for a return to form, but he could draw some trade interest if he enjoys some success. The 28-year-old is due to hit free agency following the season.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times unloaded a lot of interesting news items about the Rays last night, including a report that the Rays might have “mutual interest” in a deal with free agent first baseman/DH Mike Napoli. The Rangers declined Napoli’s $11 million option earlier this month and owe the veteran infielder a $2.5 million buyout.
Napoli, 36, had a strange year in Texas. He turned in 29 home runs, good for 11th-most among AL hitters, but finished the year batting just .193/.285/.428 over 485 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, his -0.5 fWAR was the worst mark of his career to date, but on the bright side, he should come cheap for a team looking to swap out their veterans come spring.
Of course, the specifics of the Rays’ offseason plan have yet to be divulged — or, by all accounts from Topkin, even decided on. The club could go the refurbishment route, changing out some of their higher-paid veterans for a mix of prospects and cheaper aging players; or they could opt for a full rebuild, which Topkin cautions against as it could have a negative effect on the financing of a new ballpark. Either way, the Rays figure to offload some of their bigger contracts this winter, and will need to decide if they want to retain Alex Colome, Chris Archer, Wilson Ramos, Evan Longoria and others before pursuing any other major free agents.