Late last week, the Twins announced that they had agreed to a three-year contract extension with reliever Glen Perkins, worth $10.3 million. The deal comes with a team option for 2016.
At first glance, I wasn’t too happy with this contract. Handing out long-term deals to relievers is a very risky business, as it’s rare for relievers (actually pitchers in general) to stay healthy and productive for more than a couple years in a row. Obviously there are your outliers, but those are typically few and far between.
The Twins obviously liked what they saw out of Perkins last season, and they jumped on a new contract before he could put together another good year and potentially make himself even more expensive. For example, last season netted him more than twice as much money ($1.55 million) this season as what he made last season ($0.7 million).
In signing him to this extension, an important decision for the future has been brought to light: Does this make Perkins the closer of the future? On one hand, the Twins can say no, and either stick with Matt Capps or find someone else to step in as the closer. An issue with this is that closers are typically expensive to acquire, and there’s not really anyone other than Perkins that appears to be closer material.
On the other hand, making Perkins the closer could lower future costs in the bullpen. With his salary set for the next few years (even with his games finished clause), the Twins can look for cheaper relievers to fill out a ‘pen from year to year. However, this also takes their best reliever out of the “relief ace” role, where his abilities would normally be maximized. Think about it, would you rather have your best guy out of the bullpen coming in when there’s two on, nobody out in the 7th inning where you have a one run lead, or bring him in the 9th inning, nobody out, also with a one run lead? The former is higher leverage and thus should have your best reliever enter the ballgame.
To take a side on this, well, I don’t know if I fully agree one way or the other on what Perkins should be in the future, simply because of the cons. I suppose that if I was forced to choose, I’d go with making him a closer, because that would theoretically keep the bullpen rather cheap over the next few years.