With it probably a question of when instead of if the Yankees are going to make a deal for a starting pitcher, we are going to try to keep a close eye on all possibilities until they make a big deal. So, with the Weather Channel fresh in our head, let's continue Trade Watch 2011.
The Candidate:Francisco Liriano
Why the buzz?: We first went into theLiriano possiblility on Feb. 10. The buzz then came from a Joe Christensen story in the Minneopolis Star Tribune. Now, stick with me here, Jim Bowden, ex-Reds GM, tweeted Monday that Bob Nightengale says that Liriano could be traded for Ivan Nova or Joba Chamberlain in the next two weeks. Presumably, Bob said this to Jim on Jim's XM show.
What we think: Well, nothing has changed since we wrote: Liriano is in not the type of guy you would trade Jesus Montero for, we don't think. He is just a tick below that level -- and that is if you believe he can stay healthy. We would strongly consider giving up Ivan Nova as a front man in such a deal, but not Manny Banuelos or Dellin Betances. Liriano is an upgrade, but he is a tad below giving up the top prospects.
This is the type of guy that we believe that Brian Cashman will have to continue to show discipline on. He is worth obtaining, but the price must be right.
Now, let's add if the Yankees were to trade Nova, it would be classic Yankees, talking up Nova left and right and then dealing him. I do think from Cashman to Joe Girardion down, the Yankees like Nova, but they have talk very confidently about a guy with three career decisions. Liriano is much more of sure thing and, if he avoids injury, he can be a legit No. 2.
If the Yankees could trade Liriano for Joba, it would be the right move at this point. Joba is only 25 and there still could be a tremendous upside, but it is hard to imagine it will ever happen as a Yankee. They don't think he is a starter anymore and so he will not pitch really important relief innings unless there is a serious injury and/or a sudden loss of effectiveness to Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera.
The Twins like Nova's skills, according to a scout with knowledge of their thinking. They also like Joba. They would probably keep him as a reliever as their bullpen was neutered this winter and they have viewed better in shorter bursts than longer outings because of Joba's perceived short attention span.
Update: Cashman told Wallace Matthews: "I'm not talking to anyone about anything right now. Nobody's available. Nobody of value, anyway."
OK, then, but these type of deals happen at the end of the spring, anway. So we'll keep an eye on it.