Teams Are Looking at Francisco Liriano as a Lefty Reliever
Most would assume there isn’t a robust market for a starting pitcher with a 5.99 ERA, but apparently there are several suitors for Francisco Liriano. Quite a few, in fact. Yes, a surprising number of teams are interested in the Blue Jays’ veteran lefty starter.
Joel Sherman was first to report the Blue Jays have been getting bites on Liriano and talks have been ramping up with trade partners.
Have heard from 2 sources that despite Francisco Liriano's 5.99 ERA, #Bluejays getting hits on him and may be close to dealing him.
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) July 27, 2017
The latest word from Jon Morosi has the Kansas City Royals closely linked to Liriano, but late yesterday, several more whispers came through the Twitter machine. This one from Ken Rosenthal regarding interest in Liriano from the north side of Chicago.
Sources: #Cubs have at least considered #BlueJays’ Liriano, who has a 5.99 ERA in 17 starts. Most interested clubs prefer him as reliever.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 27, 2017
Rosenthal reports most teams believe Liriano projects better as a reliever, which I can definitely see. The Blue Jays dabbled with Liriano as a lefty bullpen arm for a brief period last season, including a pair of postseason relief appearances.
As erratic as Liriano can be at times, his repertoire plays well out of the bullpen; a fastball/power slider combination could give a prospective contender a secret left-handed relief weapon. Liriano also has the capability to start or slot in as a team’s multi-inning reliever.
At the very least, Liriano still neutralizes left-handed batters, holding lefties to a .241/.267/.379 slash line as opposed to.295/.394/.512 against righties. Liriano has walked one left-handed batter all season, hence his stellar 16.00 K/BB against left-handers compared to a 1.32 K/BB versus right-handers.
It also doesn’t hurt that he’s a left-handed pitcher; something teams are always in need of, no matter how plentiful their depth chart is.
Then Robert Murray on FanRag Sports tweeted this, saying there are even more teams eyeing up Francisco Liriano.
Three teams I've heard connected to Francisco Liriano besides the #Royals: #Twins, #Dodgers, #Cubs.
— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) July 27, 2017
There are similar reports about the Royals and Cubs checking in on Liriano, but now we find out the Los Angeles Dodgers and Minnesota Twins may be suitors.
In the Dodgers’ case, they may simply need an arm to fill out their rotation until Clayton Kershaw comes back and then the Dodgers could shift Liriano into the bullpen. The Twins are in limbo right now, so I can’t see much of an interest there.
I wrote about this very topic for Daily Hive, but the Blue Jays can’t really be picky about what they could get back in return for Francisco Liriano. In the case of Liriano and Marco Estrada, the Jays should take what they can get in return, even if that may only be salary relief.
Given his track record over the past two-plus seasons (including the playoffs), one would think Estrada might generate more interest, but Liriano looks like a slightly sexier option for contending teams.