That ticking you hear in the Warehouse District is a clock inside Target Field counting down to the 2013 trade deadline; teams have until 4 p.m. Wednesday to make their final moves. Currently 11 games out of the division lead, the Minnesota Twins are already putting up their 2014 calendars. They have a trio of big decisions to make.
Value: Perkins blossomed from a middling starter to an overpowering closer, converting on 23 of 25 save opportunities this year. When his 95-plus-mph fastball isn’t whizzing past hitters, it’s jamming inside, handcuffing them.
Verdict: There’s a psychological boost of having a shutdown hurler to turn out the stadium lights every night, but that doesn’t matter if you’re always behind. That said, the Twins will likely keep Perkins, a popular St. Paul native who just made his first All Star team.
Value: Not to kick a man when he’s down, but, well, he’s already at foot level. As of a few weeks ago, Willingham had only hit 10 home runs this year, well off the pace of the career-high 35 he popped last season. Earlier this month he went down with a knee injury, apparently his own fault after an ill-advised steal attempt and awkward slide.
Verdict: The Twins might want to move Willingham, 34, but his return value is questionable. Power hitters who aren’t on the Drug Cocktail of the Month Club drop off quick in their mid-30s. A liability in the outfield, Willingham and his modest $7 million salary could still add valuable power at the plate in 2014, while commanding little in terms of trade returns.
Value: Once considered a cornerstone of the franchise, Morneau now seems destined for a fourth straight year with fewer than 20 home runs. At least he’s batting a respectable .273, and more than a few playoff-bound teams might want a competent first baseman for their pennant runs.
Verdict: This looks like the end. A team desperate for postseason success (what’s the area code in Pittsburgh?) might give the Twins something worthwhile, perhaps a much-needed pitching prospect. Working in Morneau’s favor is his friendship with the wonderful Joe Mauer. Against it? The team-owning Pohlad family has a small, $255 million disagreement with the IRS, and maybe aren’t in the mood to re-sign Morneau, who’s making $15 million in this, the final year of his contract.