Blue Jays Trade Liriano to Astros for Aoki & Hernández

The Blue Jays are on the verge of trading Fransisco Liriano to the Houston Astros according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today. The deal is not yet office, and the return is not yet known. It is expected that the Blue Jays will pick up Liriano’s salary in order to get a bigger return from Houston.

Liriano, 33, has struggled in 2017, posting a 5.88 ERA across 82 2/3 innings pitched. He has posted his lowest K% since 2011 with a mark of 19.8%, although his BB% of 11.5% is right in the area he has been recently. Those baserunners have allowed more runs to score when he gives up big hits, including the 1.20 home runs per nine innings he has suffered this season. As such, Houston plans on using Liriano as a reliever, as first mentioned by Ken Rosenthal. He is still holding lefties to a .230/.254.361 line and a 26.9% strikeout rate. More importantly, he has walked just one lefthanded batter in 63 plate appearances. That will play in any major league bullpen.

Jays fans, of course, will remember his shut down performance in last year’s wild card game after coming over as a deadline acquisition along with Reese McGuire and Harold Ramirez for Drew Hutchison. Without his performance down the stretch and the 1 2/3 innings in that fateful game against Baltimore, we likely never experience the Edwin walkoff or the sweep of Texas. So while his time here was short, his impact was very large indeed.

Robert Murray of FanRag Sports was the first to report Houston had interest.


Shi Davidi is now reporting that the piece is done, pending physicals.

We’ll continue to update this post as soon as we know more about this trade.


Astros reporter Brian McTaggart is reporting that the deal is indeed done.


McTaggart is now reporting that the Jays are getting Nori Aoki and a minor leaguer in return. The 35-year old Aoki is currently hitting .272/.323/.371 (though his career OBP is .350) and has been an average to below average outfielder in his career. Whil he is controllable through 2018 through arbitration, Aoki is very much a non-tender candidate with a 2017 salary of $5.5M. The real return is likely the minor leaguer, with Aoki more that Jays taking on more salary to increase the value of the prospect.


Well, this is why you take back Nori Aoki and his $5.5 million salary. According to Shi Davidi, the Blue Jays are getting Teoscar Hernández from the Astros, their ninth best prospect according to MLB Pipeline.

Hernández is a speedy 24-year-old with average tools across the board otherwise. He was #9 on BP’s preseason top 10 Astros list, #8 on BA’s midseason list, and MLB Pipeline grades him out as  “Hit: 50 | Power: 50 | Run: 60 | Arm: 55 | Field: 55 | Overall: 50.” Baseball America also says that “Hernandez is a versatile outfielder who has the speed and range to play above-average defense center field and the arm to be a plus defender in right” who “with a vastly improved two-strike approach and pitch recognition in 2016, Hernandez remade himself as a prospect, showing a significantly improved hit tool while losing little of his power.”

That’s a fine combination for a return on a Francisco Liriano deal. This season, Hernández is playing in AAA with the Fresno Grizzlies, and has hit .279/.369/.485 with 12 home runs and 12 stolen bases. The downside to Hernández is that he does strike out a bit, at 20.7% in 2017, but in today’s game, that is becoming more normalized. He can also play all three outfield spots (though is only passable in CF), making him a valuable piece to a big league roster. He appeared in 41 games for the Astros in 2016, batting .230/.304/.420 in 112 plate appearances.

This trade is a fantastic one for the Blue Jays in the end. Similarly to how they acquired Liriano last season, they have flexed their financial might and taken on (or retained) the salaries on a couple of players to acquire better assets in return. Hernández is a legitimate prospect and the Blue Jays did well in acquiring a player who can contribute in the future for a guy with only two months left on his contract.

Lead Photo: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

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