Matt Guerrier Rumors

Antony On Nishioka, Hardy, Pavano, Liriano, More

Twins Assistant GM Rob Antony recently sat down for a chat with Jesse Lund from Twinkie Town to discuss a variety of topics. Let's recap the hot stove talk…

  • Tsuyoshi Nishioka first popped up on the team's radar after Antony mentioned to his agent that the team was looking to get more athletic on the infield. This was long before they decided to trade J.J. Hardy.
  • The Twins believe Nishioka is a good player, but they understand there might be a bit of a transition period. Not just for the move to MLB, but the move to the United States. They've hired an interpreter for Nishioka, and don't believe the additional Japanese media will be an issue in the clubhouse.
  • The three-year, $9MM contract Nishioka signed was "exactly what we pretty much anticipated and were willing to give." They were trying to add speed and athleticism to the lineup, but no one on the free agent market jumped out at them, hence the pursuit of Nishioka.
  • Hardy was expected to make $5MM+ in 2011 (he eventually signed for $5.85MM), and the team "just decided that we wanted to put that money into other areas." Carl Pavano, Jim Thome, and most of the bullpen were free agents, so they had to prioritize. "Trying to fit all those guys into a budget was going to be impossible."
  • The Twins had conversations with other teams about Hardy, but there were never any real offers. The trade with Baltimore was "by far [their] best opportunity to make a deal." It became apparent that Brendan Harris wasn't a fit anymore, hence his inclusion in the trade.
  • Antony says the Twins like Rule 5 Draft pick Scott Diamond in long relief, and Dusty Hughes' success against Minnesota last year played a role in claiming him off waivers.
  • Although they would have liked to retain Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier, Jon Rauch, and Brian Fuentes, the Twins just "couldn't compete" with the multyear offers they were receiving as free agents.
  • Thome decided that Minnesota was where he wanted to be after talking with his family, and the money didn't appear to be much of an issue.
  • Antony expected Pavano to get two or three years at $10-11MM per season, and he knows the Brewers had some interest in the right-hander. Pavano's agent basically told the Twins he wanted to play there, and he wasn't a guy that was "chasing the last dollar."
  • Rumors of Francisco Liriano being available in a trade were just that, rumors. As far as a multiyear deal with the lefty, Antony said there "can be many reasons why you don't consummate a multiyear deal, and sometimes the player doesn't want to, sometimes the club doesn't want to, sometimes you just don't agree on numbers, or whatever. So we're not going to talk about any of our negotiations with that or anything else, but he was a big part of our rotation. We're not talking to anybody right now on Francisco Liriano."
  • The team is at the "far reaches" of where they can go with payroll, so they tried to maintain flexibility for 2012 by not doing any multiyears deals this offseason (aside from Pavano).
  • "If the right deal arises and we can improve our ballclub, we could look at it from that point of view," said Antony, regarding a potential trade involving one of the team's excess starting pitchers. "I don't think we'd trade away one of our starting pitchers for a middle reliever or something. It would have to be something that would make sense for us. And a trade isn't even the most likely scenario, it's a possible scenario."

Antony also talked about Justin Morneau's health, Delmon Young's breakout, injury concerns, minor league prospects, and much, much more. Make sure you give it a read.


Twins Notes: Pavano, Liriano, Crain, Punto

Let's take a look at some Twins tidbits..

  • The Twins and Carl Pavano are still close to a deal but appear to be in a temporary holding pattern, writes Joe Christensen of the Star Tribune.  The sides still have some details to work out but they've agreed to put the talks on hold through Tuesday. 
  • Tabling the talks with Pavano should allow the Twins to focus on their potential arbitration cases.  Matt Capps, Francisco Liriano, Kevin Slowey, Glen Perkins, and Delmon Young are all scheduled to swap figures with the Twins on Tuesday.  Christensen points out that the Twins settled all eight of their potential arbitration cases at the eleventh hour last year.
  • The Twins made some attempts to retain Jesse Crain but ultimately knew that relievers Brian Fuentes, Matt Guerrier, and Jon Rauch would sign elsewhere, according to Christensen.
  • Nick Punto is still on the open market but the Twins don't have any plans to bring the infielder back, writes Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune.  Punto, 33, has spent the last seven years with the Twins, hitting .248/.323/.324.

Dodgers To Sign Matt Guerrier

The Dodgers signed Matt Guerrier to a three-year deal, the team announced today. The deal is for $12MM over three years, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Newsday's Erik Boland first reported the agreement (on Twitter). 

The right-hander joins Scott Downs and Joaquin Benoit as the setup relievers to agree to three-year contracts this winter. Guerrier will not cost a draft pick, since the Twins declined to offer him arbitration. 

Guerrier led the league in appearances in 2008-09 and pitched in 74 games this past season. Not only is he durable, he is a ground ball pitcher with a career 2.7 K/BB ratio against righties. That figure drops against lefties (1.5 K/BB), but he induces more ground balls against them.

However, 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 solid ratios of 5.3 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 last year, but both rates were better in 2009.

The Red Sox, Orioles and Blue Jays also expressed interest in the 32-year-old this offseason. Boston offered a two-year deal with a vesting option for 2013, according to Alex Speier of WEEI.com. The Rockies also bid on Guerrier, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (Twitter link).

When I examined Guerrier's free agent stock earlier in the offseason, I expected him to land a one-year deal, so agent Joe Bick deserves credit for taking advantage of a player-friendly market.



Red Sox Notes: Soriano, Crain, Guerrier, Cameron

The AL East is a busy division these days. The Yankees have to finalize their rotation, the Rays have to reconstruct their 'pen and the Orioles are acquiring players in bunches. The Red Sox have added two star players to their lineup, but they're still contemplating more moves. Here's the latest:


Cafardo’s Latest: Red Sox, Pavano, Buehrle, Millwood

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe names the winners and losers of the Winter Meetings in his newest piece, with the Red Sox, Nationals, and White Sox topping his list of winners. Cafardo also shares a handful of hot stove notes. Here are the highlights:

  • Before they signed Carl Crawford, the Red Sox "did a ton of work" on Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Beltran.
  • Carl Pavano figures to wait for Cliff Lee to sign, so he can see the type of offers he receives as the top pitcher on the market. Cafardo thinks Pavano could be a backup plan for the Rangers if they don't land Lee, though the Twins still remain the favorites for the 34-year-old. Texas has also inquired on Matt Garza and James Shields.
  • The White Sox will listen to offers for Mark Buehrle, whose contract expires after the 2011 season. Buehrle earned ten and five rights this year, so he'd have the option of vetoing any trade.
  • Agent Scott Boras says a strong market is developing for Kevin Millwood.
  • Team officials that spoke to Cafardo had mixed opinions on free agent backstop Russell Martin. One opined that Martin "can't call a game," while another raved about the enthusiasm the catcher brings each day.
  • According to Cafardo, the Red Sox were the only team to discuss Justin Upton with the Diamondbacks, balking at Kevin Towers' insistence that Daniel Bard be included in a potential deal.
  • The Astros would have interest in trading Matt Lindstrom and Jeff Keppinger.
  • Grant Balfour is seeking a three-year contract. The Red Sox have looked into him, but are hoping Matt Guerrier will accept their offer. As Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston noted today (via Twitter), Guerrier is one of the top relief targets for Boston, along with Brian Fuentes and Jesse Crain.

Odds & Ends: Guerrier, McCutchen, Blue Jays, Punto

As the baseball world says goodbye to Cubs great Ron Santo, here are some news tidbits heading into the weekend…


Pirates Looking At Free Agent Relievers

6:49pm: The Pirates' interest in Chan Ho Park appears to be cooling, according to MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch.

4:34pm: The Pirates have inquired on Aaron Heilman as a reliever, MLBTR has learned. Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports (on Twitter) that the Pirates are not targeting Matt Guerrier.

1:42pm: The Pirates are showing interest in and making offers to a number of free agent relievers, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  He says they were in on J.J. Putz before he reached an agreement with Arizona and are looking at guys like Kevin Gregg.  I'm told the Pirates showed lukewarm interest in Hiroyuki Kobayashi, only on a minor league deal.

The Pirates already have Evan Meek and Joel Hanrahan as closer candidates, so it appears they're trying to once again build a late-inning reliever surplus.  It worked well with Octavio Dotel this year.


Red Sox Like Rhodes, Downs, Guerrier, Feliciano

5:32pm: GM Theo Epstein told reporters, including Alex Speier of WEEI.com that the Red Sox have made "a number" of offers to free agent relievers, some left-handed, some right-handed.

4:36pm: Like the Reds and Phillies, the Red Sox have some interest in Arthur Rhodes, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The lefty does not appear to be close to deciding on his next team.

11:23am: The Red Sox are also in on Pedro Feliciano, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.  Feliciano's other known suitors: the Yankees, Phillies, and Rockies.

2:24am: Signing Type A relievers and surrendering a draft pick is a risky proposition, as the swings in any reliever's performance from year-to-year can be wild, and they simply don't impact a large amount of innings over the course of a season.

WEEI.com's Alex Speier tells us that may not stop the Red Sox from pursuing Scott Downs, however, despite the fact that he'd cost Boston a first-round pick. Speier's source also says that the club wouldn't give up a pick to sign Grant Balfour to the multi-year deal he's seeking, and he cites multiple industry sources saying the club is interested in Matt Guerrier after the Twins declined to offer him arbitration.

As Speier points out, Downs has some of the most dominant numbers in history for a reliever during his age 31-34 seasons, and the Red Sox have taken note of the division rival's excellence. Since 2007, Downs has compiled a 2.36 ERA with a 7.8 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 over 236 2/3 innings, while being a stickler for home runs (0.5 HR/9). He's been a menace to left-handed hitters, but it's worth noting that the highest OPS right-handers have managed off him in that timeframe is .643.

Guerrier, 32, has appeared in 70 or more innings every year since his first full season in 2005, with the exception of 2006 — when he came one out short of the mark. While his career peripherals (5.9 K/9, 45.7% GB%, 4.44 FIP) don't dazzle, Guerrier has managed to out-perform them year-in and year-out. He's led the league in appearances twice (2008 and 2009) and has a career ERA of 3.38 to his name to go along with solid control (2.8 BB/9).

Epstein said Monday that the Red Sox will acquire multiple relievers via trade or free agency, but as he points out in this quote relayed from Speier, teams may be waiting for some distance from the Joaquin Benoit signing:

“Sometimes when there’s a contract that exceeds expectations early, it can embolden players and agents within that subset of players who have a similar resume,” said Epstein. “Time will tell whether they get attached to that contract or it’s an outlier contract.”

The Red Sox haven't surrendered a draft pick to sign a reliever since 2004 with Keith Foulke, but Downs could change that trend, especially if the Red Sox end up receiving additional first-round and supplemental picks for the departures of Victor Martinez, Adrian Beltre, and Felipe Lopez.


The Asking Price For Guerrier, Crain

3:46pm: Guerrier's agent informed Miller that his report was inaccurate (Twitter link). Guerrier is not looking for a Benoit-like contract.

3:15pm: Emboldened by Joaquin Benoit's $16.5MM deal with the Tigers, Matt Guerrier and Jesse Crain are looking for similar contracts, according to Scott Miller of CBSSports.com. Like Benoit, Crain (a Type B free agent) and Guerrier (who wasn't offered arbitration) can be signed without surrendering a draft pick. The former Twins are durable and effective, so they're drawing interest from multiple teams.

Despite the Benoit deal, clubs are reluctant to hand middle relievers multiyear deals worth $5MM per season. One NL GM told Miller that there's "no way in hell" he'd endorse that kind of signing. Red Sox GM Theo Epstein recently told Alex Speier of WEEI.com that some deals are exceptions and don't necessarily represent the market.

"Sometimes when there’s a contract that exceeds expectations early, it can embolden players and agents within that subset of players who have a similar resume,” Epstein said. “Time will tell whether they get attached to that contract or it’s an outlier contract.”

Brandon Lyon signed a three-year, $15MM deal at the Winter Meetings last year before the market settled and comparable relievers signed for less guaranteed money.


Twins Rumors: Nishioka, Pavano, Morneau, Bullpen

As I get ready to settle in for more overnight coverage for our around-the-clock coverage of the 2010 Winter Meetings, here's some Twins info for you fellow creatures of the night, courtesy of the Minneapolis Star Tribune's La Velle E. Neal III:

  • It will be up to Twins manager Ron Gardenhire whether or not Tsuyoshi Nishioka will play second base or shortstop if the Twins sign the Japanese batting champ. That decision, of course, will likely impact the club's plans for J.J. Hardy, who is known to be on the trading block. Earlier tonight we learned that the Twins offered Nishioka a multiyear deal.
  • Twins GM Bill Smith wouldn't rule out the possibility of Hardy, Nishioka, and Alexi Casilla all being on the roster in 2011, but remember that Gardenhire did voice a desire for more speed (which Casilla has and Hardy does not).
  • Neal wonders if the Twins would pursue Joel Hanrahan in a potential Hardy deal with Pittsburgh. It's a logical target, but we heard earlier today that any return for Hanrahan or Evan Meek would need to be "very significant." One year of Hardy doesn't fit that bill if you ask me.
  • Smith told Neal that he doesn't think the ship on Carl Pavano has sailed. Pavano and agent Tom O'Connell are in no hurry to sign, though Neal mentions that Twins Assistant GM Rob Antony was supposed to meet with O'Connell today.
  • Justin Morneau's doctor doesn't think there's any doubt that he'll be ready to take the field in Spring Training. Morneau was enjoying perhaps the best season in all of MLB prior to suffering a concussion just before the All-Star Break.
  • Another injured Twins All-Star, Joe Nathan, is making strong progress in his return. The Twins tendered Matt Capps a contract this past week, likely as insurance for the ninth inning should Nathan not be ready early on in 2011. Even with a healthy Nathan, Minnesota's bullpen needs some work, as four of their relievers are hitting free agency.
  • Neal doesn't think the Twins have a chance to bring back Jesse Crain or Matt Guerrier in 2011. Both relievers have been connected to multiple teams. Neither will cost a draft pick to sign.
  • Neal heard that the Twins have some interest in Sean White, though he cautions that he's checking to see if that rumor is still current.