One week from today, the Twins will hold their first pitchers and catchers workout in Fort Myers, Fla., and from all reports, Francisco Liriano is raring to go.
The excitement for Liriano's 2010 season began building last winter, when the lefthander went 3-1 with a 0.49 ERA and a ton of strikeouts for Escogido in the Dominican Winter League playoffs.
Liriano spoke often about how much that helped restore his confidence after going 5-13 with a 5.80 ERA the previous year with the Twins.
He logged about 50 innings for Escogido, took a few weeks off, and then went through a full spring training, before pitching a career-high 191 2/3 innings for the Twins. When it came time to decide whether to let Liriano pitch winter ball again this year, the Twins declined.
"It was time for him to rest, and he understood that," Twins General Manager Bill Smith said.
Even though Liriano hasn't been pitching competitively, he's been working out and is said to be in good shape. Smith gets his reports from Fred Guerrero, a Twins scout who is based in the Dominican Republic.
"Francisco knows this is another big year for him," Smith said.
We'll see how Liriano responds to this week's news that the Twins are open to trading him. Like usual, Smith isn't touching that topic, but since writing this report, I've had team officials remind me that they'll listen to trade offers for anyone, not just Liriano.
I was also told that Liriano's camp did not specifically ask for a three-year, $39 million contract. I'd heard those numbers from a source but tried to be clear I couldn't be sure about the specifics. (Presumably, that would have been a three-year extension for Liriano added to this year's $4.3 million, which would give him a four-year deal similar to the ones Zack Greinke and Josh Johnson have signed in recent years.)
Again, I don't have the specifics. Apologies for the confusion, but the larger premise still holds: Long-term talks with Liriano have gone nowhere, he doesn't appear to be in the Twins plans past 2012, and they are open to trading him, as soon as next month.
* Tom Pelissero, with ESPN1500, heard from a source that the Rangers and Yankees are possible landing spots for Liriano.
* Over at FanGraphs, Dave Cameron analyzed the potential returns the Twins could get for Liriano, citing Shaun Marcum as the closest comparison. I had referenced the Matt Garza trade, but Cameron correctly notes that Garza can't become a free agent until after 2013.
* Many others have weighed in against the idea of the Twins trading Liriano. At TwinkieTown, Jesse Lund countered several of my points with interesting points of his own. Liriano relied more heavily on his slider last year because he was throwing the best slider in MLB, Lund wrote. I can't argue there. This definitely is a good debate that only figures to get more interesting as the Twins rotation begins taking shape in Florida.