Dodgers sign Matt Guerrier to three-year, $12 million contract

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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.