Twins and Francisco Liriano avoid arbitration with one-year deal

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The Twins and Francisco Liriano have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $4.3 million contract, according to the team’s Twitter feed.

Liriano requested $5 million and was offered $3.6 million from the Twins when arbitration figures were submitted last month, so the two sides ultimately settled at the exact midpoint.

The 27-year-old left-hander went 14-10 with a 3.62 ERA over 31 starts last season, setting career-highs with 201 strikeouts over 191 2/3 innings. It has taken Liriano a while to find his footing after Tommy John surgery, but thanks to a sharp uptick in velocity last season, he began to resemble the emerging ace we saw back in 2006.

Liriano remains under team control though 2012, so the Twins still have some time to talk about a long-term contract extension.

Orioles “have begun fielding calls of interest” on Manny Machado

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports Thursday that the Orioles “are said to have begun fielding calls of interest” on superstar Manny Machado and “are close to the point of seriously weighing whether to trade him.”

You’d think it would be a no-brainer for the last-place O’s to flip Machado — an impending free agent — for prospects, but Heyman notes there is “still a question whether or not longtime Orioles owner Peter Angelos” will give the go-ahead. One person familiar with the situation put it a “50-50” likelihood. Another suggested that it would take a massive return, which, sure.

Machado entered play Thursday with a sensational .328/.405/.635 batting line, 15 home runs, and an MLB-leading 43 RBI in 49 games. It’d be a real shock if he’s still wearing an O’s uniform by the end of July.

Heyman reported previously that at least nine teams made aggressive plays for Machado this winter, including the Cubs, Phillies, Dodgers, Indians, Diamondbacks, Yankees, Red Sox, White Sox, and Cardinals. A whole lot of those teams still make sense here in late May — maybe all of them except the White Sox.