Dodgers agree on deal with Matt Guerrier


By Dylan Hernandez
Los Angeles Times

The lack of an established middle-of-the-lineup bat overshadowed another area of uncertainty for the Dodgers: the back end of their bullpen.

The Dodgers moved to address the latter priority, reaching an agreement with former Minnesota Twins setup man Matt Guerrier, according to baseball sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deal is pending a physical examination.

The addition will come at a significant cost: $12 million over the next three years.

Guerrier, 32, has spent his major league career with the Twins, compiling a 3.38 earned-run average over six-plus seasons. He has appeared in at least 73 games in each of the last four seasons.

Guerrier led the American League in appearances with 76 in 2008 and 79 in 2009. Guerrier posted a career-worst 5.19 ERA in 2008, but rebounded the next year and lowered that figure to 2.36.

The market for middle relievers this off-season was set by Joaquin Benoit, who signed a three-year, $16.5-million deal with the Detroit Tigers last month. Scott Downs signed a three-year, $15-million contract with the Angels this month.

The Dodgers were forced into action because of the numerous question marks in their bullpen. Jonathan Broxton lost his role as the team’s closer late last season, Hong-Chih Kuo had to be used carefully because of his medical history, Ronald Belisario was late to camp and later sent to a substance-abuse program, George Sherrill was released into the free-agent market, and swingman Vicente Padilla hasn’t been a reliever in 10 years.

With the New York Yankees appearing satisfied with what they learned during Russell Martin’s physical examination, their one-year deal with the former Dodgers catcher will be finalized once necessary paperwork is completed.

Martin’s deal with the Yankees could be worth as much as $5.4 million, according to a baseball source who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the contract isn’t official.

Martin will be paid a guaranteed base salary of $4 million and can earn an additional $1.4 million in incentives based on the number of games he catches. To maximize his deal, Martin will have to appear in 120 games behind the plate. Games in which he appears as a replacement catcher will count toward his incentives.

The Yankees intend for Martin, who is recovering from a hip fracture, to be their starting catcher.

Martin rejected an offer from the Dodgers that called for a $4.2-million base salary and as much as $1.1 million in incentives based on games started. Had Martin accepted the Dodgers’ offer, he would have had to start 140 games (at any position) for his earnings to total $5.3 million. For starting 120 games, Martin would have been paid a total of $4.8 million.

Updated 12/15/10