Over the weekend, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported that the Yankees were keeping a close eye on Twins’ starter Francisco Liriano. On Monday, Nightengale told Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio that he thinks Liriano will be traded to New York sometime in the next two weeks.
We’ve heard discussion about the Twins possibly trading Liriano from a variety of sources, so it appears this rumor has legs. The Yankees have an obvious need in their rotation, but the Twins would be trading away the closest thing they have to an ace at the moment. According to Nightengale, the Twins would acquire either Ivan Nova or Joba Chamberlain, in addition to other pieces. Stay tuned, because it sounds like things are about to get very interesting.
If the Twins acquire Chamberlain, I wonder if they’ll consider him a starter or a reliever. Because obviously the Yankees’ brass doesn’t feel that he’s a starter or else he would be mentioned along with the other 25 candidates that are trying out for the No. 4 and No. 5 spots in New York’s rotation.
If they do wind up trading Liriano, it’s hard to like Minnesota’s chances in the AL Central this year. The White Sox and Tigers have retooled and the Twins’ bullpen took some big hits in the offseason. Getting healthy seasons out of Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer would become even more vital given the losses the Twins have (or will) absorbed in their pitching staff.
Assuming Liriano could handle pitching in the Bronx, he would give immediate hope to the Yankees’ pitching situation. Now all of a sudden, less would be expected of A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes, which is huge in the case of Burnett (who succumbed to the pressure last season after pitching well in 2009).