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Updated: February 10th, 2011 10:41am
Sources: Twins open to dealing Francisco Liriano for right price

Sources: Twins open to dealing Francisco Liriano for right price

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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The Minnesota Twins are open to the idea of trading Francisco Liriano.

The question is, can they get enough in return to justify giving up their top left-handed starter?

Baseball sources on Thursday morning confirmed a Star Tribune report the Twins would consider moving Liriano, 27, who signed a one-year, $4.3 million deal that avoided arbitration on Saturday.

A source with knowledge of the situation said the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers top the list of potential suitors and the deal could happen "anytime" -- although the Twins are willing to wait for the right package.

It would be a classic sell-high move with Liriano, who was 14-10 with a 3.62 earned-run average, 201 strikeouts and 58 walks in 191 2/3 innings over 31 starts with the Twins last season.

In two previous seasons since undergoing Tommy John surgery in November 2006 -- he didn't pitch an inning in 2007 -- Liriano was 11-17 with a 5.12 ERA.

According to the Star Tribune, long-term contract talks went nowhere this offseason, with Liriano's camp asking for a three-year, $39 million deal. There remain concerns within the organization about his long-term durability. And the Twins are set to have six starters vying for five spots in the rotation when pitchers and catchers report to spring training in Fort Myers, Fla., next Thursday.

Liriano still is two years away from free agency. So, barring a long-term deal, the Twins could ride him for two more seasons and take the compensatory draft picks, or try to trade him sooner than that.

Another injury surely would cause Liriano's value to plummet, especially given his history. But can a team with a record payroll near $114 million afford to rely on the likes of Nick Blackburn, Kevin Slowey, Brian Duensing and Scott Baker behind Carl Pavano in the rotation? And is top prospect Kyle Gibson ready to contribute sooner than later?

Those are questions the Twins will try to sort out in Fort Myers -- and could be answered if the Yankees, Rangers or someone else makes an offer the Twins can't refuse.

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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