It wasn't shocking that the Twins traded Francisco Liriano late Saturday night, just three days before the nonwaiver trade deadline. But it was surprising to see him land with the division rival Chicago White Sox.
The White Sox acquired Liriano for middle infielder Eduardo Escobar and lefthanded pitcher Pedro Hernandez, who are both heading to Class AAA Rochester for the Twins.
Liriano was scheduled to start Sunday's game against Cleveland for the Twins. Now, he will wait around the Twin Cities until the White Sox arrive at Target Field on Monday and likely will face the Twins in that three-game series.
"I'm not thrilled with trading him within the division, obviously," General Manager Terry Ryan said. "You guys know where we are in the standings."
Saturday night's 12-5 victory over Cleveland pulled the Twins out of last place for the first time since April 25.
Liriano, 28, is eligible for free agency after the season. Ryan said Liriano expressed interest in staying with the Twins, but the team did not offer the lefthander a contract extension.
"We didn't want to be left with nothing [if Liriano left as a free agent]," Ryan said.
Since making the All-Star team as a rookie in 2006, Liriano has had Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery and gone through several ups and downs.
He is 50-52 for his career and 3-10 with a 5.31 ERA this year. Those numbers don't begin to tell the story, of course. He twirled a no-hitter on May 3, 2011 -- coincidentally, against the White Sox. In his third-to-last start for the Twins, Liriano racked up 15 strikeouts against Oakland, but Monday he gave up seven runs in 22/3 innings -- once again, against the White Sox.
"They know what they're getting, and I know what we're giving up," Ryan said.
As for what the Twins are getting in return, neither Hernandez nor Escobar profiles as an elite prospect.
Hernandez, 23, was traded to the White Sox from the Padres in December. A Venezuela native whose fastball generally sits in the 90-92-miles-per-hour range, Hernandez is 8-2 with a 2.94 ERA in 15 games combined this year between Class AA and Class AAA, including 14 starts.
He made his major league debut for the White Sox on July 18 and gave up eight runs in four innings at Boston's Fenway Park. The Twins believe Hernandez can become a full-time starter in the big leagues, but Ryan didn't want to say if he's a No. 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 starter.
"I'm not going to say that because I would have said that Scott Diamond's a potential number, and it wouldn't have been accurate," he said. "We'll let him make his own way. He has enough stuff. He's got a fastball, slider and a change. He throws a lot of strikes, which is good, but I'm not going to say he pitches to contact. He pitches to get outs."
Baseball America had Escobar ranked as Chicago's 10th-best prospect after the 2011 season, but the White Sox farm system is notoriously thin.
Escobar has spent all season in the majors with the White Sox. In 87 at-bats, he hit .207 with no home runs, including going 2-for-5 with an RBI double in Chicago's 5-1 victory at Texas on Saturday night. He wasn't a regular for the White Sox, and the Twins view him as more than a utility infielder.
"He's a switch hitter who can run," Ryan said. "He's got tremendous energy. He's strong enough. He can play shortstop. He can play second. He doesn't really profile at third offensively, but he can play there. Defensively you wouldn't have any problem with any of the three."