SAN DIEGO – In case you haven’t noticed, the Twins have been on an alumni reunion kick in recent years. Now they are interested in bringing back a former pitcher.
Two sources with knowledge of the Twins’ offseason plans have confirmed that the club continues to be interested in lefthander Francisco Liriano, who was traded away in 2010 when he underperformed but has since stabilized his career with Pittsburgh.
The Twins contacted Liriano’s agent, Greg Genske, at the start of free agency and remain in touch. Liriano, however, is expected to have several teams interested in him, and according to reports, the Pirates are interested in re-signing him. Another hurdle will be that Pittsburgh will be due draft pick compensation if Liriano signs with another club. That’s a road the Twins, who live off of drafting and development, have never gone down.
Liriano, 31, went 23-18 with a 3.20 ERA in two seasons with Pittsburgh. He got off to a rocky start there when he agreed to a two-year contract but had it voided when he broke his right arm during the offseason and failed his physical. He ended up redoing the deal, earning $1 million in 2013 and $6 million last season. He’s likely looking for a contract in the $10 million-12 million range, which is the going rate for solid pitching on the free-agent market.
In seven years with the Twins, Liriano was 50-52 with a 4.33 ERA. He went 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA and was named to the All-Star team in 2006. Just when the Twins though they had a one-two punch in Liriano and Johan Santana, Liriano missed all of 2007 because of Tommy John surgery. He was 14-10 with a 3.62 ERA in 2010 but was never as dominant as he was in 2006.
But he was close in 2013, his first year with the Pirates, going 16-8 with a 3.02 ERA.
The same agency that represents Liriano also represents lefthander Brett Anderson, another pitcher the Twins are eyeing.
Indications are that the Twins will meet with Anderson’s agent on Monday.
Anderson, 26, is talented but has battled injuries throughout his career. He wouldn’t command as much money as Liriano.
He was 1-3 with a 2.91 ERA in eight starts with Colorado last season. He would not cost the Twins a draft pick either.
The Twins also have inquired about righthander Edinson Volquez, who was 13-7 with a 3.04 ERA with Pittsburgh last season. Again, the Pirates appear to be interested in bringing him back.
And, as they continue to wear out the alumni angle, the Twins have expressed interest in righthander Pat Neshek, the Park Center product who pitched for the Twins in 2007, 2008 and 2010. Neshek, 34, was an All-Star last season with the Cardinals, posting a 1.87 ERA in 71 games,
More than 12 clubs have called about Neshek since the start of free agency.