There’s a famous episode of Seinfeld known as “The Two Face.” Jerry meets a girl who looks absolutely amazing in certain lighting and absolutely hideous in others.
Francisco Liriano is baseball’s version of a two face. As a Twins fan, I’ve seen him go from 2006 All-Star, to minor league demotion, to a 14 win, 200 K season, to bullpen demotion, to no-hitter, etc. Liriano is either dominant or he pitches batting practice. There is no in-between. The Twins got tired of waiting for Liriano to figure it out and traded him to Chicago last season. He’s now a free agent, and despite his inconsistency, his talent will still tantalize teams. So let’s look at where he might end up.
1. Kansas City Royals – K.C. has seen Liriano up close from his AL Central days and even after signing Jeremy Guthrie, the Royals are desperate to improve their rotation. After non-tendering first round bust Luke Hochevar, they could put Liriano in both his rotation and salary slot. For Kansas City, signing Liriano would be a low risk/high reward move.
2. Boston Red Sox - After shedding a lot of their bad contracts in last year’s mega trade with the Dodgers, the Red Sox have salary to spare and a severe lack of arms. Liriano does not give up many homers to left-handed batters, so Fenway’s short porch in right shouldn’t be an issue. In addition, if Liriano flames out as a starter, he could slide down to the bullpen as he’s done in seasons past and help Boston in relief. I doubt Liriano will get more than a 1-2 year deal, so it’s not likely Boston will have to make another bad, multi-year deal (see Lackey, John). The place where my gut tells me Liriano will end up is:
3. Minnesota Twins - When it comes to Liriano, the Twins are the long-battered spouse who keeps coming back for more under the guise that “he can still change.” At his best, Liriano has #1 Starter stuff. The problem is, he’s not as his best very often. The Twins do need starting pitchers badly and with reports that the team is already discussing a one year deal with Liriano’s agent, the writing may be on the wall. My guess is Liriano signs a one year deal with the Twins in the $5 Mil range.