The Twins will receive dozens of phone calls in the next month from teams trying to trade for Glen Perkins.
They should take the calls, and listen to the offers, and hold extensive meetings, and run statistical models on the logic of trading a closer from a bad team, and then say, “No chance.”
Unless a contending team wants to trade them a young version of Justin Verlander, which is highly unlikely, the Twins should continue celebrating this uniquely beneficial relationship.
Perkins has become their second-best player, behind another Minnesota-born Twin with a long-term contract named Joe Mauer.
He has become the most important member of the strength of their team, an overachieving bullpen.
He wants to spend the rest of his career in Minnesota and happily gave the team a hometown discount in their last negotiations, and probably would do so again in the future.
He plays a position that is critical to contending teams, as the Twins gear up to contend again sometime in the next two years.
The 30-year-old Perkins is the rarest commodity in baseball: An affordable veteran standout who values his role and location more than maximum earning potential. And according to sources in the Twins organization, they don’t plan or expect to trade him.
“We’re assets, when it all comes down to it,” Perkins said. “If they can get more in return than I can provide them, I can’t argue with that. But I’m going to go out there when the phone rings and I’m going to pitch, and I’d like to pitch at Target Field and for the Twins.”
In March 2012, Perkins signed a three-year contract worth $10.3 million. He is making $2.5 million this year. He is scheduled to make $3.75 million in 2014 and 2015. The team has an option to keep him for 2016 in $4.5 million.
Given that Perkins is dominating for a third consecutive season and has easily adapted to the role of closer, he is one of the game’s best bargains. Unlike many athletes, he considers the word “bargain” to be a compliment.
“Part of the reason I think other teams want me is I signed a deal that is perceived as team-friendly,” Perkins said. “Which is fine with me. I’d rather be where I am now than in a situation where people are saying, ‘Oh, man, that guy is way overpaid.’ It’s definitely enough money to be happy. More than enough.”
Perkins lives in Lakeville. Late Sunday afternoon, he was preparing for an evening on the pontoon boat with his kids. “When I signed that deal, there were a lot of things that went through my head, and a lot of things that my agent told me,” Perkins said. “When I signed that deal, it was a combination of me having one good year and them offering me enough money that I would never have to worry about money.
“I’m at home, and I have a chance to play a significant chunk of my career, if not the whole thing, in the state where I grew up. My agent’s thing was, ‘Wait a year,’ and I said, ‘If they offer me a contract that starts with a 10 or more, I can’t turn it down.’
“I believe in my heart that if I hadn’t signed that deal, I wouldn’t be here now. I would have gotten more expensive, and it would have been easier for them to trade me. Someone can say that I could have made more money, but I wouldn’t trade this for anything, being here. Hopefully, that’s how it works out for the long term.”
His manager, Ron Gardenhire, was given a list of the reasons Perkins could be traded for great value. “Those,” he said, “are the reasons we want to keep him.”
Modern baseball thinking suggests that closers are overpaid and that their role is overrated, which sounds good until you find yourself in a pennant race needing a closer.
Perkins wants to be around when the Twins are contenders again, wants to finish his career a half-hour from home. Given his ability and affordability, what could be wrong with that?