Report: Dodgers Sign Matt Guerrier to Three Year Deal

Update: Ken Rosenthal reports that it’ll be $12m over 3 years. I assume that’s going to be backloaded as $1m, $1m, $10m, because hey – why not?

We’re hearing rumors that the Dodgers have signed former Twins reliever Matt Guerrier to a three-year contract. No word on the terms yet, but this is shocking to say the least.

MLBtraderumors had a solid accounting of him in November:

The Pros

  • Guerrier led the league in appearances in 2008-09 and pitched in 74 games this past season.
  • He induces more grounders than fly balls.
  • His slider is excellent.
  • Guerrier has a 2.7 K/BB ratio against right-handed hittters in his career. 
  • He has just a 1.5 K/BB ratio against left-handed hitters in his career, but he does induce more groundballs against them (55%).
  • As mentioned earlier, it won’t cost a pick to sign Guerrier.

The Cons

  • Defense independent pitching stats like FIP and xFIP suggest Guerrier’s 3.17 ERA would have been higher if he had been less lucky in 2010.
  • He posted 5.3 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 last year. That’s not spectacular and both rates were better in 2009.
  • The free agent market is flush with right-handed relievers, so Guerrier won’t have much leverage.

They also predicted that he’d get a one-year deal, and that’s the problem – well, one of the problems. The issue here isn’t that Guerrier isn’t good, because he’s clearly durable and effective, and in a baseball vacuum, that’s great, and he’s a solid addition to the pen.

But nothing ever lives in a vacuum, does it? When have multiyear deals to over-30 relievers – especially one who’s good but not dominant – ever worked out? How do you think the White Sox felt about Scott Linebrink‘s deal? The Blue Jays about B.J. Ryan? I realize I’m cherry-picking a bit, but the success rate there isn’t high. This is why everyone’s been laughing at the Angels for handing out multiple years to older relievers Scott Downs and Hisanori Takahashi. That’s all before you even notice that Guerrier’s K rate has dropped from 7.0 in 2008 to 5.5 in 2009 to 5.3 in 2010 – and his fastball velocity dropped in 2010 as well. It’s not a good trend for a guy who turns 33 next year.

Secondly, why is this team spending more money on pitching when the offense looks to be in trouble? I get that the bullpen was poor last year, but it’s long been shown that spending big money in the bullpen rarely works out. There’s plenty of talent in the pen that you need to have a little faith can bounceback, and yet the offense is still without a left fielder . We don’t yet know what Guerrier will get; I joked on Twitter that Downs got $15m over 3, but since Downs is both better and lefty, Guerrier deserves something less like $3/10. Therefore, I’m predicting 3/$21m.

Then there’s the question of what this does to the bullpen. If the season were to open today, and the Dodgers were to carry 7 relievers, which they usually do, you’re looking at a bullpen of…

R Jonathan Broxton
L Hong-Chih Kuo
R Kenley Jansen
R Matt Guerrier
R Vicente Padilla
R Ronald Belisario (out of options)
R Blake Hawksworth (out of options)

That’s an intriguing group, I’ll admit. But it doesn’t include a second lefty, which seems unlikely. So is there a trade in the works? It’s obviously not going to be Kuo, Jansen, Guerrier, or Padilla. Belisario and Hawksworth are candidates because they’re out of options, but don’t have much trade value. So is this where we see Broxton moved? I’ve long said I find it unlikely that he gets moved at the absolute lowest of his value, and I would hate dumping him for nothing, but I’m fine with it in the right deal. Personally, I still don’t see it happening.

More to come…

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  1. [...] such a hard time remembering that Guerrier is a Dodger? Perhaps it’s because the signing, which most of us disapproved of at the time, isn’t looking any better as the winter goes along. In the last week, four free agent [...]

  2. [...] having such a hard time remembering that Guerrier is a Dodger? Perhaps it’s because the signing, which most of us disapproved of at the time, isn’t looking any better as the winter goes along. In the last week, four free agent relievers [...]

  3. [...] bullpen, and that’s where the problems begin. We’ve talked ad nauseum around here about the Matt Guerrier contract and how handing out multi-year contracts to decent-ish middle relievers rarely works (particularly [...]

  4. [...] multi-year deals for non-elite relievers are almost never ever a good idea – a point that was made many times, here and elsewhere, before Guerrier ever threw his first [...]

  5. [...] Matt Guerrier. He’s the guy we’ve been complaining about since the day he was signed. No, [...]

  6. […] Mattingly immediately came out to replace Rodriguez with Matt Guerrier, and here’s where the problems began. Rodriguez isn’t your typical LOOGY; he’s effective against hitters from either side of the plate. Guerrier, on the other hand… is Matt Guerrier. He’s the guy we’ve been complaining about since the day he was signed. No, really. […]