Twins sign reliever Perkins to deal through 2015
Contract includes option for '16, incentives for Minnesota native
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Twins reliever and Minnesota native Glen Perkins is staying home for the foreseeable future.
Perkins, who is already under contract for the 2012 season at $1.55 million, signed a three-year extension through the 2015 season worth a guaranteed $10.3 million on Thursday.
The deal also includes an option for '16, and includes incentives for games finished if he becomes the club's closer. Perkins, 29, was eligible to be a free agent after the 2013 season. He will earn $2.5 million in 2013, and $3.75 million in both '14 and '15, while his option for '16 is for $4.5 million, with a $300,000 buyout, according to a Major League source familiar with the contract negotiations.
Perkins said he was thrilled to sign the new deal because it allows him to stay in his home state while also providing financial stability for his family. The Stillwater native, and Lakeville resident, also said he plans to donate to the University of Minnesota and the Twins Community Fund.
"To know that I can go out and pitch and not worry about anything else -- I know where I'm going to be and what I'm going to be doing for the next three, four years -- I think that's awesome," said Perkins. "I'm glad with all the stuff we've been through, the ups and downs, to keep those relationships intact and strong enough that they wanted to do something like this.
"It's exciting for me that we were able to overcome some things and stay here, because I'm a Minnesota guy. Through all that, I never really wanted to play anywhere else. I know that I'll get to be here another four years."
The Twins had the similar interest in retaining Perkins, as he developed into one of the game's top left-handed relievers last season. He had a breakout campaign in '11, posting a 2.48 ERA with 65 strikeouts in 61 2/3 innings as the club's top setup man.
"I think it always takes two sides," Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony said. "We had interest in extending him. He was absolutely interested in trying to do something. He likes it here, he's from here, he lives here. So this was an opportunity for Glen to get security and an opportunity for us to lock up a key piece of our bullpen for the next four years plus."
Perkins enters this year as the club's top setup reliever again, and given his success last season, he could be in line to become the club's closer in the near future. That's why the agreement has incentives to compensate Perkins if he does become the closer, according to Antony.
"I think it's a leap of faith on our part, and I think there were some concessions on his part," Antony said. "This thing is structured to protect him. So if his role changes as closer, there's language to be compensated better. So it was a two-way street. He had a breakout year last year, and we had a lot of confidence in him. He's evolved into a bit of a leader in that clubhouse. He's a guy I think we can depend on."
Perkins, though, has gone through his fair share of struggles with the Twins, including in '09, when he posted a 5.89 ERA in 96 1/3 innings and filed a grievance with the club over service time.
The two sides ended up settling the grievance during that offseason, but he struggled as a starter in '10, posting a 5.82 ERA in 21 2/3 innings with the Twins and a 5.81 ERA in 124 innings with Triple-A Rochester.
"That was probably the low point," Perkins said. "I mean, I'd had some success in the big leagues, and to not have a clue in Triple-A, that's pretty tough. It's one thing to struggle here; it's another thing if you've had success here to go back and struggle there. You really have to check yourself. There were times it was hard to motivate myself to keep doing it because of the struggles."
After those struggles, Perkins entered last Spring Training out of Minor League options and fighting for a spot in the bullpen. But he had an excellent spring, with a 1.50 ERA in 12 innings in Grapefruit League play, and carried it into the season as the club's best reliever. As a result, he earned the 2011 Joseph W. Haynes Award (Twins Pitcher of the Year) and the Charles O. Johnson Award (Most Improved Twin) by the Twin Cities Chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
"Everybody goes through that," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Perkins' maturation. "People grow up a little bit. I think the one thing that was cool about Perk's situation, he's a kid that grew up there, lived there, rooted for the Twins and sometimes you're going through baseball and you're trying to make it, and you're trying to get your foot in the door, and you get stuck, and you're a little stubborn in your ways, but you realize this is a really good situation.
"To be at home, for the team you grew up watching and playing for, your family's there, the whole package, and you realize how good it is you have it, no matter what's going on."
Perkins, a Stillwater High School graduate, was originally selected by the Twins in the first round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft after a standout career at the University of Minnesota. He has a career 4.41 ERA in 145 appearances, including 44 starts, with 224 strikeouts, 100 walks and 45 homers allowed in 365 innings.
"We are very pleased to reach this agreement with Glen," Twins general manager Terry Ryan said in announcing the agreement. "He has been a reliable reliever for us and has helped stabilize the back end of our bullpen in the setup role. When we were looking for someone to step up last year, it was Glen who seized the opportunity and pitched the way we knew he could, after selecting him out of the University of Minnesota."