The Twins are 12 games back in the American League Central race at the All-Star break, and that gap figures to widen once Detroit becomes interested in the 2013 regular season. These last few weeks — two nice wins going into the break against the Yankees notwithstanding — have reinforced what we all suspected as soon as pitchers and catchers reported to spring training: the Twins, once again, will be sellers instead of buyers at the upcoming trade deadline.
For a while, much of the discussion centered on Josh Willingham and whether he would be good trade bait. He is injured now, a season after his best in the majors, and his trade value is down. Justin Morneau’s name has been brought up often, but here’s the dirty secret: Morneau’s on-base and slugging numbers are both lower than even a year ago. He wouldn’t fetch much in a trade. Maybe someone would be interested in Mike Pelfrey or Kevin Correia, but the yield, again, would be minimal.
If the Twins are serious about getting value, they have to give up value from their most solid area: the bullpen. And the biggest asset they have there is a homegrown talent who is quite popular with fans. Glen Perkins is an All-Star. This is his third consecutive season of very effective relief work and while his contract — $3.75 million per year in 2014 and 2015 with a 2016 team option at $4.5 million — affords Perkins and his family a very nice life, it is also considered very friendly by modern proven closer standards.
The market for pitchers tends to be good at the deadline, and having a very good closer on a 90-loss team doesn’t make a ton of sense. Sentimentally and in terms of fan relations, however, trading a Minnesota native and one of the team’s top players might be tugging at the Twins’ brass. So, too, might the idea that still having Perkins in a year or two when times are (hopefully) better would sure be nice.
But if the Twins think they have another reliever who can be a closer — much how Perkins evolved into that role — and they think trading him can make them better in the long run, it’s hard to let sentimentality stand in the way. We’re not sure how it will go, but it could be an interesting and difficult decision in the next couple of weeks if a sweet offer comes along.