This off-season has been a lucrative one for back end of the bullpen pitchers. Former Twins closer Joe Nathan signed with the Detroit Tigers for 2-years and around $20 million. That's good money for a man closing in on age 40 that had Tommy John surgery not that long ago. The Braves also locked up their ninth inning man, Craig Kimbrel, to a 4-year, $42 million contact that will see him be one of the highest paid closers by the end of the deal. It's safe to say it's a decent time to be a closer.
Things took a different path in Twins Territory this off-season. The Twins weren't looking to strike a new deal with their closer Glen Perkins because he signed a deal a couple of seasons ago that would have under team control through 2015. Perkins approached the team about signing a long-term deal so he could be a Twin even longer. The Minnesota native wanted to make sure the majority of his career was played in his home state.
It wasn't that long ago that Perkins and the Twins looked like they were heading for an ugly break-up. In 2010, Perkins filed a grievance against the Twins for the way they handled his shoulder injury that season. He was sent to Triple-A while dealing with a shoulder injury and he felt like he should have been on the MLB disabled list so he could accumulate more big league service time. Oh, how things have changed!
Perkins will now make $22.5 million from 2014-2017 with a team option for 2018. This new deal means he will be in Twins pinstripes into his mid-30's at a relatively cheap price. The top 25 highest paid relief pitchers are all scheduled to be paid over $5 million this season. With Perkins new deal, he will get a little over $4 million. The most Perkins will make under his new deal is $6.5 million in 2017 and that amount would only rank him 13th on the current list of relief pitcher salaries. If MLB contracts continue to rise, the Twins will have a very good deal by the end of this contract.
It has been hard to ignore how valuable Perkins has been since he shifted to a relief pitcher role. When compared to other left-handed relief pitchers, Perkins is in some elite company. Over the past three seasons among lefty relievers with 150 innings, his 5.5 WAR ranks second to Aroldis Chapman and their ERAs are eerily similar, 2.43 for Chapman and 2.45 for Perkins. Where Perkins ranks the best is when it comes to strikeout to walk rate, his 4.2 SO/BB rate is the best in this category by a significant margin.
Minnesota has one of the best farm systems in baseball and now the team won't have to worry about the back-end of the bullpen during the club's rebuild. Perkins took a hometown discount to be part of the rebuilding process and this means the team will have extra money to spend on other parts of the roster. Perkins has become an integral part of the Twin Cities community and his value goes far beyond what happens on the diamond.