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Blue Jays trade Francisco Liriano to Astros

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Houston would use Liriano as a bullpen piece.

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Boston Red Sox David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Astros have acquired lefty Francisco Liriano and cash from the Blue Jays for outfielders Nori Aoki and Teoscar Hernandez, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale and MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart.

Liriano has been linked to the Royals, Twins, Cubs and Dodgers in recent weeks as the Jays have shopped him. He has struggled to a 5.88 ERA in 18 starts for Toronto this season but has still intrigued teams due to the fact he’s a rental who lefties are hitting .230/.254/.361 against.

If the deal is completed, Houston is likely to use Liriano in a relief role, potentially as a lefty specialist. The Astros are looking for a lefty arm to put alongside Tony Sipp in the bullpen but are unlikely to match the high prices for top options Brad Hand and Zach Britton.

Liriano is earning $13.67 million this year, so the prospect cost in a deal would likely not be high. It’s unclear who will pay the rest of his salary this year.

Aoki, 35, has hit .272/.323/.371 with two homers in 71 games this season. Houston wanted to open a spot in its outfield for prospect Derek Fisher, leading Aoki to be expendable in trade talks. Aoki is under Jays’ control for next season as well.

Hernandez, 24, was ranked by Baseball America as the no. 8 overall prospect in the Astros system at midseason. He broke into the majors last year for Houston but has spent almost the entire 2017 season at Triple-A, hitting .279/.369/.485 with 12 omers.

The package of Aoki and Hernandez appears to be a strong return for Liriano, but both guys were blocked with Houston. Fisher, Josh Reddick, George Springer and top prospect Kyle Tucker are controllable for a while, giving Houston plenty of options in the outfield.