Point: The Twins should trade Glen Perkins
The Twins are still rebuilding. Fans hate that word, but it’s the truth. This franchise has improved by leaps and bounds over the past twelve months. The farm system is widely considered one of the best in baseball and the on-field product has improved markedly. However, the rebuild is not complete and in order to continue to bolster this organization, the Twins need to be open to moving anyone with value. Perhaps no one currently on the roster has more value than closer Glen Perkins.
It’s not a bad move on paper or on the field. First, he’s getting older. He’ll be 31 next season and with the twins still two or three years from contending, he might be on the downside of his career before he is truly needed as a closer. In addition, the haul from a guy like Perkins could be bigger than anyone other than Joe Mauer could bring back. There are plenty of good teams with closer issues, including Detroit and Boston. Even great teams like Atlanta and Pittsburgh (crazy to call them great, but I think they are!) could use a dominant lefty like Perkins. If these teams value Perkins appropriately, they might be willing to part with a good pitching prospect, a good shortstop prospect, or possibly even both.
Regardless of the return, the fact is that a proven closer is useless on a team that will not need important games closed out for them. If Perkins saves 40 games in a 70-win season, what value did that really bring the team? It may move them from fifth to fourth place, but it’s not going to get the team any closer to the playoffs than that. Perkins’ greatest value to this organization would likely come from the players he brings back in trade.
If the Twins are truly committed to building a long-term Championship-level team, they should cash in one of their best trade chips and further boost the much improved farm system. Adding another top 100 prospect can only make the long-term outlook better. There is risk involved when trading a good player, but the returns down the line could pay off in an impressive manner.
Counter-point: The Twins should not trade Glen Perkins
The Twins should not trade Glen Perkins because he is more valuable to the Twins than he would be on the trade market. First, Glen Perkins may be a proven closer here in Minnesota, but who says he is proven across Major League Baseball? He has all of 40 career saves and he is left-handed, which does not fit the typical closer archetype. In addition, the return for good relievers is often underwhelming and short of getting a top 50 prospect, the Twins would be better off keeping Perkins around until the next good Twins team arrives.
We keep hearing that the next good Twins team could be coming as soon as 2014 or 2015. Perkins will only be 32-years-old in 2015, and when you consider the light amount of innings on his arm, he may remain effective for a few years after that. You also have to throw in his reasonable contract and the fact that he is very well liked by fans and teammates. There is no reason to concede that the Twins will not be good before 2015, and if the best farm system in baseball doesn’t produce MLB players by then, the return for Perkins is unlikely to change their future.
Why trade a known commodity for a lottery ticket at best? Prospects are hardly sure things, but I think we can safely say that Glen Perkins will be a reliable reliever for the next few seasons. There’s value in that knowledge. If the Twins ship him off for a starting pitching prospect who ends up in the bullpen, that pitcher better have the dominant stuff that Perkins already has. Otherwise, it’s a downgrade and it upsets the fans. Why take that chance with a young player who can still provide value now and in the future?
Glen Perkins is a great player. For a team and franchise so devoid of great players, the Twins should be looking to keep the few that they employ. If the Twins were to trade Perkins, they would be tacitly admitting that they are farther from contention than they have let on in recent months. This would be a disappointing step in the wrong direction. Keep Perkins!