Glen Perkins, a Minnesota native who became a three-time All-Star closer with the Twins, has decided to retire.
A source close to Perkins on Tuesday said the lefthander is ending his playing career and is interested in transitioning into a role with the Twins front office. Perkins’ future came up on Monday when Twins General Manager Thad Levine was asked about it during a winter caravan stop in St. Cloud. Levine said that Perkins had decided to retire and that he could join the front office someday if he wished. KXSS-AM Radio then tweeted about Levine’s remarks on Tuesday.
Perkins, 34, has been quiet since the end of the regular season. He spent most of the year rehabilitating from shoulder surgery in 2016 to repair a torn labrum. The surgery cost Perkins 16 months, and he was not the same dominant southpaw once he returned.
Perkins was emotional following a Sept. 30 outing against the Tigers in which he asked for the baseball after getting the third out in the ninth inning.
“It’s a cool moment,” Perkins said at the time, “and if that’s it, I’ll remember it for the rest of my life.”
The Twins declined the $6.5 million option on his contract after the season ended, paying him a $700,000 buyout instead.
The former Stillwater High School and Gophers star was selected by the Twins in the first round of the 2004 draft. He made his debut as a starter and spent the first four years of his major league career in that role. His first extensive work as a reliever came in 2011, when he appeared in 65 games. Without the need to condition himself to pitch six-plus innings for his starts, Perkins began throwing fastballs at 95 miles per hour and higher. His slider was extremely effective, as it cut across the plate while diving toward the back foot of righthanded hitters. It was a dominant combination of pitches.
Perkins took over closing duties from Matt Capps in 2012 and excelled. He saved at least 32 games in each of the next three seasons. He earned the save in the 2014 All-Star Game at Target Field and would have made it saves in consecutive All-Star Games in 2015 if Brian Dozier had not homered in the ninth inning of the game in Cincinnati, taking Perkins out of a save situation.
Perkins started 28-for-28 in save situations that year but battled neck and back problems during the second half of the season. When he finally got healthy in September, manager Paul Molitor decided to keep Kevin Jepsen in the closer’s role while the team fought for a playoff spot. Perkins wasn’t pleased about the lack of a defined role.
While being removed from a late September game, Perkins jammed the ball into his manager’s hand as he left the mound. They cleared the air the next day, both admitting they could have handled things differently. And they moved on from there.
He finishes his career 35-25 with a 3.88 ERA in 409 career appearances, including 44 starts. His 120 saves are third in team history to Joe Nathan’s 260 and Rick Aguilera’s 254.