Francisco Liriano was terrible for the Twins and White Sox last season and then made headlines for all the wrong reasons this winter when his two-year deal with the Pirates had to be reworked due to an at-home injury.
That delayed Liriano’s season debut until mid-May, but he’s been one of the best pitchers in baseball since then and finished the first half on a high note last night by shutting out the A’s for seven innings. Liriano heads into the All-Star break at 9-3 with a 2.00 ERA in 12 starts, posting an 80/28 K/BB ratio and .221 opponents’ batting average in 77 innings.
He’s not quite the overpowering force of nature he was for Minnesota before undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery, but Liriano is close enough to slice through the National League while looking like one of the best free agent signings of the offseason.
The Rays have traded right-hander Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, per team announcements on Saturday evening. The Twins will receive minor league shortstop Jermaine Palacios in the deal. Despite previous speculation, recently-DFA’d outfielder Corey Dickerson was not included in the trade.
With Odorizzi, the Twins finally have the front-end starter they’ve been seeking all winter. It’s a bargain deal as well, as the 27-year-old righty is under contract through 2019 and didn’t require the club to part with any of their top-shelf prospects in the trade. Odorizzi will be looking to stage a comeback in 2018 after a dismal performance with the Rays last year, during which he eked out a career-worst 4.14 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 8.0 SO/9 through 143 1/3 innings.
Palacios, 21, ranked no. 27 in the Twins’ system last season. He split his year between Single-A Cedar Rapids and High-A Fort Myers, raking a combined .296/.333/.454 with 13 home runs and 20 stolen bases in 539 plate appearances. He’s expected to continue developing at shortstop, though he’s also seen limited time at second and third base during his four-year career in the minors.