A closer look at the new deals for Liriano, Harris

Posted on January 20th, 2010 – 10:16 AM
By Joe Christensen

Some notes from the fine print of the contracts the Twins handed out Tuesday, avoiding arbitration:

(*) Francisco Liriano’s one-year, $1.6 million deal includes up to $100,000 in incentives. He can reach those incentives two ways — as a starter or as a reliever. He’ll receive $25,000 payments when he hits the following thresholds: Games started (24, 26, 28, 30) OR appearances (40, 45, 50, 55).

This is notable because there have been internal discussions about making Liriano a reliever this season, unless he bounces back in a big way. Liriano struggled mightily to command his fastball last year, but the feeling is his slider could make him highly effective in relief, especially against lefthanders. Despite his immense struggle last year, he still held lefthanded hitters to a .255 average and .631 OPS.

The Twins could open with a rotation of Scott Baker, Carl Pavano, Kevin Slowey, Nick Blackburn and either Brian Duensing or Glen Perkins, allowing Liriano to move into a bullpen role.

(*) Brendan Harris signed a two-year, $3.2 million contract. The deal will pay him $1.45 million this year and $1.75 million in 2011, but his 2011 salary can increase by up to $675,000 depending on his playing time this year. The 2011 salary increases by $75,000 when Harris reaches 450 plate appearances, $100,000 for 500 PA, another $150,000 for 550 PA, $175,000 for 600 PA and another $175,000 for 650 PA.

Harris finished the 2007 season as Tampa Bay’s starting shortstop and racked up 576 PA that season. He reached 490 PA and 453 PA in his first two seasons with the Twins, batting .263/.319/.379. He’s never been a favorite of Manager Ron Gardenhire’s, but for now, Harris is among the leading in-house candidates to fill third base (along with Matt Tolbert and Nick Punto), at least until prospect Danny Valencia proves he’s ready to hold down the position.

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