Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.

Opposing scouts continue to study Liriano, Span ahead of trade deadline

Posted by: Phil Miller under MLB, Twins rumors Updated: July 20, 2012 - 11:44 AM

Eleven days from the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, Francisco Liriano and Denard Span remain the Twins most likely trade candidates. Josh Willingham is on that list, too, but he’s under contract through 2014 at $7 million per, and as soon as the Twins moved him, they’d be hunting for another righthanded power hitter.

As for Justin Morneau -- even with the recent injuries to Joey Votto, Jose Bautista and David Ortiz -- I just don't see it. Here's a piece about Morneau's trade value from earlier this month.

If the Twins traded Span, they could move Ben Revere to center and promote Chris Parmelee from Class AAA Rochester to play right field. Aaron Hicks, their 2008 first-round draft pick, is another center fielder who looks like he’s turned a corner at Class AA New Britain.

The Twins had deep discussions with the Nationals about Span last July but wound up keeping him. The leadoff man is batting .282 with a .348 on-base percentage and nine stolen bases. From the No. 2 spot, Revere is batting .313 with a .342 OBP and 20 stolen bases.

The Reds, Nationals and Orioles are all teams looking for a leadoff hitter who gets on base. The Yankees could look to Span to play left field, with Brett Gardner likely done for the season.

Span, 28, is playoff tested and making just $3 million this year. He’ll make $4.75 million next year, $6.5 million in 2014 and has a $9 million option for 2015 with a $500,000 buyout.

Liriano, 28, is a pending free agent, making $5.5 million. His next start is scheduled for Monday in Chicago.

Scouting the scouts

Vern Followell, the Twins pro scouting coordinator, was at Fenway Park this week for Red Sox/White Sox.

Teams with scouts at Target Field on Wednesday for Liriano's outing included: the Angels, Yankees, Red Sox and Pirates. The Mets and Reds had scouts here this week and were probably there Wednesday, too. (The Marlins and Padres were also here, but I don’t think they’re looking for the same things. There have been Blue Jays scouts crawling around all season, but they are everywhere.)

For what it’s worth, I was told that scouts for the Angels and Yankees both got up and left Wednesday’s game after Liriano exited after six innings and 10 strikeouts. So let your imaginations run wild.

Braves scout Jim Fregosi was here for two Liriano starts on the previous homestand, but at the time, there were indications Atlanta didn’t view Liriano as enough of an upgrade. It’s possible that has changed. As Ken Rosenthal notes today on FoxSports.com, the starting pitching market appears to be shifting, with the possibility of Cole Hamels and Zack Greinke getting moved shrinking. The Twins could benefit from this.

Liriano's future uncertain

Here’s what we know: Liriano went 0-5 with a 9.45 ERA in his first six starts and got demoted to the bullpen. Since returning to the rotation on May 30, the lefty is 3-4 with a 2.84 ERA in 10 starts, a stretch that includes 77 K, 28 BB in 63.1 IP. Liriano has 25 strikeouts in his past two starts, but gave up a big home run in each, and lost 4-3 to the A’s and 2-1 to the O’s.

It’s possible the Twins won’t get an offer they like and will keep Liriano, offering him a one-year, $12.5 million deal in hopes of getting a compensation pick if he leaves. We've been told he's looking for a three-year deal and that the team has yet to approach him about a contract extension.

Asked Thursday if Liriano's trade value is going up, Twins GM Terry Ryan said, “You know I’m not going to get into that. It’s all in the eye of the beholder, don’t you think? There are certain people that are going to like [Liriano], certain people that aren’t going to like [him], and certain people that will be right in the middle. So, you don’t need me to respond to that. You’ve already got your answer. You’re watching the same thing I am."

Programming note: La Velle has our coverage from Kansas City, so check his blog later for tonight's starting lineups.

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