The Twins may trade Francisco Liriano

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Twins ace Francisco Liriano is under team control though 2012 and he’s coming off a season that looks as though he’s back on track to being the ace he looked like he’d be before Tommy John surgery.  Normally that would make a guy a candidate for a long-term extension.  The Twins, however, may be thinking differently about it.  Here’s Joe Christensen:

With six pitchers vying for five spots in the Twins starting rotation, one possible solution is trading Francisco Liriano. Speaking to team officials recently, I’ve been surprised how open they are to this possibility, but the logic makes sense … One thing is clear: The Twins don’t plan to sign him long term.

Christensen hears that long-term talks between the Twins and Liriano went nowhere and cites his injury history — and his continued reliance on his arm-taxing slider — as things that make the Twins wary of making a long commitment to the guy. There’s a lot in the article about Liriano allegedly “came up short in big situations” last year. It’s mentioned that “in his final 20 starts, including the postseason, he didn’t finish the eighth inning once.”

While Liriano is no CC Sabathia or Felix Hernandez when it comes to being a workhorse, that’s not a comparison a lot of pitchers will win.  Liriano had the same number of total eight-inning starts as Jered Weaver, Brett Myers, Mat Latos and John Lackey last year, so it’s not like he’s awful or anything.  The dude is a fantastic pitcher. As such, it’s kind of puzzling for me to see so much negativity thrown on him here.  For Twins fans’ sake I hope that’s all Christensen’s own analysis and not the opinion of the front office. Because if the front office thinks Liriano is as expendable as the article makes him seem, they’re not going to get true value for the guy if  and when they trade him.

Hunter Pence is mashing for the Rangers

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Hunter Pence was thought to be on his way to retirement after a lackluster 2018 season with the Giants. As he entered his mid-30’s, Pence spent a considerable amount of time on the injured list, playing in 389 out of 648 possible regular season games with the Giants from 2015-18.

Pence, however, kept his career going, inking a minor league deal with the Rangers in February. He performed very well in spring training, earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Pence hasn’t stopped hitting.

Entering Monday night’s game against the Mariners, Pence was batting .299/.358/.619 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 109 plate appearances, mostly as a DH. Statcast agrees that Pence has been mashing the ball. He has an average exit velocity of 93.3 MPH this season, which would obliterate his marks in each of the previous four seasons since Statcast became a thing. His career average exit velocity is 89.8 MPH. He has “barreled” the ball 10.4 percent of the time, well above his 6.2 percent average.

What Pence did to a baseball in the seventh inning of Monday’s game, then, shouldn’t come as a surprise.

That’s No. 9 on the year for Pence. Statcast measured it at 449 feet and 108.3 MPH off the bat. Not only is Pence not retired, he may be a lucrative trade chip for the Rangers leading up to the trade deadline at the end of July.