It's A Sellers' Market For Relievers

Hannah Foslien

While trading Glen Perkins would unquestionably be an unpopular decision, the Twins could get a king's ransom in exchange based on what teams have been willing to surrender for other relievers.

I love Glen Perkins. I love that Perk has blossomed into one of the elite relievers in baseball and proved me wrong after I gave up on him far too soon. I love that he signed a team-friendly contract, basically agreeing to make as much money over a four-year span as Joe Nathan did each year from 2008-11. I'd be depressed to see the Twins move him prior to tomorrow's 3pm CT deadline, but it's becoming more and more clear that the Twins could perform an absolute heist if they decided to make the incredibly tough call and trade him.

In the past week, the Orioles have acquired Francisco Rodriguez from the Brewers in exchange for Nick Delmonico, and the Tigers have acquired Jose Veras from the Astros in exchange for Danry Vasquez and a PTBNL. Both relievers are inferior to Perkins in nearly every statistical category, and that's before factoring in age and contract status. K-Rod, 31, is on a minor league deal but is a free agent at season's end. Veras is 32 and has a club option for 2014, so he's a bit more than a rental, but he's hardly an elite arm.

Both pitchers netted prospects in the acquiring team's Top 10 according to both Baseball America and MLB.com, and ESPN's Keith law noted in his Insider-only breakdown of the Veras deal that the PTBNL headed to the Astros is "another good flier" for Houston. Assuming Vasquez, who ranked sixth among Detroit prospects per BA and fourth per MLB.com, is the centerpiece, it's still possible to assume that Detroit is sending another Top 20 prospect Houston's way. Meanwhile, Delmonico entered the season as Baltimore's No. 4 prospect per BA and already ranks as Milwaukee's No. 5 prospect, per MLB.com

Granted, the Tigers have a dismal farm system, while the Orioles are a middle-of-the-road club in terms of minor league talent. That Delmonico is the Brewers' No. 5 prospect is more an indictment of Milwaukee's farm system than a statement of how they fleeced the Orioles. The point remains the same though: the Astros and Brewers turned a couple of low-risk fliers on questionable veterans into actual prospects as opposed to warm bodies. Imagine what the Twins could get for three and a half years of Perkins at roughly one-third of his actual market value.

Last night, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported that left-handed relief is in such demand that teams have actually called the Mets to see how Pedro Feliciano and Tim Byrdak are progressing in their rehab assignments. Feliciano hasn't thrown a Major League pitch since 2010 and has pitched 21 minor league innings this season -- just two of which have been at Triple-A. Byrdak hasn't progressed beyond Class A Advanced in his own rehab stint.

The Braves, Cardinals, Dodgers and Reds have reportedly all called the Twins regarding Perkins, and plenty of other teams such as the Diamondbacks, Red Sox and Pirates are still in the market for bullpen help. Terry Ryan has said he'd listen if overwhelmed by an offer for Perkins. Given the prices on guys like Veras and K-Rod, the Twins should be able to receive a strong offer for Perkins, especially if the Cardinals, who have baseball's strongest farm system, are truly interested. It'll likely come down to what Ryan's definition of "being overwhelmed" is, but in a market where Jose Veras and Francisco Rodriguez are bringing back actual prospects of note, I can imagine Perkins netting a pair of Top 100 prospects.

As Law noted in his reaction to the Veras piece:

This also removes one reliever with ninth-inning experience from the trade market, which probably leaves Kevin Gregg as the main Proven Closer who's definitely available in a trade -- a fact that should encourage the Phillies, Twins and perhaps the Rangers to explore the markets for their own closers in the next 48 hours.

Perkins could fetch the type of midseason haul that Twins fans aren't accustomed to seeing enter the organization via trade. Given the team's already strong collection of minor league bats, a Perkins trade could provide an influx of pitching depth. Either Casey Fien or Jared Burton could step into the ninth inning for the Twins in the interim (Fien has been better than Burton -- a pleasant surprise in its own right). Ryan has an interesting and incredibly difficult situation to analyze over the next 27 hours. We all know it's unlikely that Perkins gets dealt, but there may never be a time when his trade value is higher.

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