Matt Guerrier has been linked to Boston throughout the offseason, but Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein is said to be against the idea of handing out three-year contracts to relievers and Erik Boland of New York Newsday reports that Guerrier has agreed to a three-year deal with the Dodgers believed to be worth $12 million.
Guerrier is a Type A free agent, but the Dodgers won’t have to part with a draft pick because the Twins declined to offer him arbitration for fear that he’d accept and force them into a $5 million commitment for 2011.
Guerrier spent seven seasons in Minnesota as one of the most underrated relievers in baseball, posting a 3.38 ERA and .247 opponents’ batting average in 472 innings while twice leading the league in appearances. He’s had an ERA above 3.50 just once in six full seasons as a reliever and has made 70-plus appearances in each of the past four years.
However, he’s shown some signs of decline at age 32, as his strikeouts per nine innings have dropped from 7.0 in 2007-2008 to 5.4 in 2009-2010. His fastball velocity was also down about one mile per hour this year and Guerrier is a fly-ball pitcher whose secondary numbers (strikeouts, walks, ground-ball rate) have never been quite as strong as his ERAs. Los Angeles is getting a very capable, durable setup man, but the three-year commitment is a risky one.
ESPN.com’s Buster Olney has the details of Russell Martin’s one-year contract with the Yankees. He’ll earn $4 million in base salary, which is less guaranteed money than he turned down from the Dodgers prior to being non-tendered.
Los Angeles reportedly offered him $4.2 million upfront and another $1.5 million in potential incentives, while Martin is said to have insisted on at least $5 million guaranteed.
There’s no word yet on if his deal with the Yankees includes more than $1.5 million in incentives, but either Martin simply wanted a fresh start after five seasons with the Dodgers or he miscalculated his market value coming off a fractured hip and back-to-back down years.
Moving on quickly after Cliff Lee turned them down, the Yankees “have agreed to terms on a contract with Russell Martin,” according to Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. It’s believed to be a one-year deal, although the Yankees would also have Martin under team control in 2012 as an arbitration-eligible player.
Because of his fractured hip Martin passing a pre-signing physical exam is probably no sure thing, but assuming he does the Yankees beat out the Red Sox and Blue Jays to nab the two-time All-Star after he was non-tendered by the Dodgers.
If healthy Martin will be given every opportunity to serve as the Yankees’ primary catcher, with Jorge Posada spending the bulk of his time at designated hitter. Francisco Cervelli is in line to be the backup after starting often in place of Posada this year and the Yankees’ top prospect, Jesus Montero, is for now at least a catcher even if many people believe he’ll eventually move out from behind the plate.
Not so long ago Martin was one of the best all-around catchers in baseball, hitting .285 with a .373 on-base percentage and .433 slugging percentage in 427 games through age 25, but he’s batted just .249 with a .350 OBP and .330 SLG in the past two seasons while missing half of 2010 with the fractured hip that remains a question mark. Bouncing back is hardly guaranteed considering how hard the Dodgers rode Martin prior to the hip injury, but he’s still just 28 years old and would bring plenty of value to the table with his defense and on-base skills even if the rest of his game lags behind.