Glen Perkins Signs Extension with Twins

It doesn’t get talked about very often, but spring training serves a dual purpose for many teams. Not only is it a time to get their players warmed up and ready for the regular season, but it’s also a perfect time for teams and players to finalize contract extensions. Free agent acquisitions are finished for the year and the off-season madness is in the past, so teams have the free time to focus on locking up their players. Coming into today, there had already been seven extensions signed since the beginning of spring training…and the Twins just added number eight:

The Twins have signed left-hander Glen Perkins to a three-year, $10.3MM extension, the team announced. The SFX client was already under contract for $1.55MM in 2012, so the deal covers the 2013-15 seasons. It includes a club option for 2016.  (MLB Trade Rumors)

This was a savvy move by the Twins. In his first full season working out of the bullpen, Perkins blossumed into an entirely new pitcher. As a starter, his strikeout rate had hung around 10% as his slider and change-up both generated mediocre amounts of whiffs. His fastballs averaged in the low-90 MPH range, making his overall repertoire middling.

But in the bullpen, Perkins let himself go. His fastball’s velocity jumped up to 94-95 MPH, and he ditched his change-up in favor of throwing his slider 30% of the time. He had never generated more than 28% Whiffs/Swing with any of his pitches before, but in 2012, hitters whiffed on his slider 40% of the time they swung at it. Perkins went from a replacement-level starter to closer material — not something you see happen every day.

The Twins don’t have a deep bullpen, so it makes sense that they’d want to lock up Perkins. His 2.41 FIP and 1.7 WAR led the Twins last season by a wide margin; the next best pitcher in their ‘pen was arguably Joe Nathan, who had a 4.28 FIP and finished the season with zero WAR. Their closer, Matt Capps, saw his strikeout rate plummet last season, and he blew 9 saves and posted a 4.75 FIP. It was a sorry bunch back there, and Perkins was the only consistent, reliable reliever that the Twins had.

By locking up Perkins before the season begins, the Twins essentially just inked their closer-of-the-future to a contract worthy of a set-up man. At the first sign of trouble from Capps, Perkins will likely be inserted as closer, and the Twins will have themselves a great closer signed to a very affordable control.

My only hesitancy is that Perkins is guaranteed money by the Twins for four seasons; that’s a long time to trust that Perkins will remain healthy and effective. Relief pitchers come and go, their performance fluctuates on a yearly basis, and they are a constant injury risk. Teams rarely sign relief pitchers to deals longer than two or three years, and even those sort of deals can blow up in a team’s face easily enough. This is a tad of a risky signing by the Twins — but at least it’s a small risk, as $12 million over four seasons isn’t so bad. Even if he regresses some or has some injury issues over the coming years, Perkins should still easily be worth this contract in the end.

Considering the current state of the Twins’ bullpen, this was a no-brainer decision. They may have six other holes, but at least they have one reliable reliever to count on in the future.

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Steve is the editor-in-chief of DRaysBay and the keeper of the FanGraphs Library. You can follow him on Twitter at @steveslow.

12 Responses to “Glen Perkins Signs Extension with Twins”

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  1. Savvy? No-brainer? Closer of the future?

    These were not words I expected to see in this article.

    Perkins had his first good season. He is already under team control through 2013. And he is already 29.

    I know the money from this extension is not overwhelming, but why take on that risk for a guy who, again, has had one good year?

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    • d_i says:

      it seems they are pretty confident his improvement is for real so they get 3 additional years of team control at a price not a whole lot more than he’d get in arbitration – now can can put him at “closer” for the next 5 years (with option) without worrying about him inflating his value above what he’s worth.

      PS – I made a bet with my friend today that the closer role as we know it won’t extist in 15 years. Think I’m overestimating the progressiveness of clubs? I predict the Rays are the first to employ the strategy of using relievers based on leverage.

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      • I get that line of reasoning. But, if he did this again next year, as a non-closer, how much would his price really go up? He’s not getting Marshall money, right? So, the risk of waiting isn’t that high.

        Plus, you get that extra year of evaluation to see whether he can maintain his success.

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      • Luke in MN says:

        I would guess part of it is that this allows them to make him their closer without worrying about what that does to his future price.

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      • d_i says:

        Perhaps, but then you’d have to commit to Capps for this year. On the off chance Morneau is back to himself and they’re in the hunt, trusting Matt Capps is a fools’ errand – but then again so it trading Wilson Ramos for him, excercising an $8 mil option in 2011 for him, and then signing him to a well above market deal with better options available while forfeiting a supplemental pick for 2012. Hopefully this move signals a wake up call for the Twins and an end to the irrational love of Matt Capps.

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      • colin says:

        On the surface this looks like a good deal, it is not so good though where I would call it a definite win for the Twins.

        Disagree about your idea about the “closer role” even if team do pitch relievers based on leverage, that will still result in pitching the 9th inning because, all things even, it still has the highest leverage. Even if you assume it is late and the score is tied in say the 7th, you have a decision making conundrum in that despite the fact that it is high leverage, you a more likely to get to the 9th in an equally high leverage situation than not, so most managers seemingly would still wait until the 9th.

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  2. drivlikejehu says:

    I think it’s a good move. The contract isn’t a bargain or anything but if he does step into the closer role at some point this year, the Twins won’t have to worry about his arbitration value being inflated.

    It also takes place in the context of the team horribly mismanaging their bullpen from a personnel standpoint. Sure would be sad if the rest of the club actually beat expectations and were sunk by the relievers.

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  3. Matty Brown says:

    2.5ish WAR over 4 seasons, even with reliever volatility shouldn’t be a problem for him.

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  4. What helps Perkins is that he doesn’t rely on deception, throws from the left side, and has a plus pitch besides a legit heater (slider).

    Oh, he could definitely hiccup and have a 4.00 ERA season (just as a reference point, obviously reliever ERA stinks), but I’d think he’s pretty likely to be good in 3/4 of those seasons, and with the going rate of elite relievers — something Perkins could be considered if this season is anything like last — on the free market, it was wise of the Twins to keep a guy who clearly wanted to be in Minnesota for a number of reasons.

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  5. One thing S-Slow didn’t touch on, that I might have, is that Perkins IS Minnesotan. He didn’t want to be anywhere else, and he had a come-to-Jesus talk with Ron Gardenhire where he basically said “what’s the deal?” and they worked it out man-to-man.

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  6. Josh says:

    Fantasy question concerning Perk…
    Is he worth keeping at $7 in an AL only

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