The Los Angeles Dodgers have agreed to terms with free-agent reliever Matt Guerrier on a three-year, $12 million contract, according to a source who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deal is contingent on Guerrier's passing a physical examination, which is expected to take place on Thursday morning in Los Angeles. Joe Bick, Guerrier's Cincinnati-based agent, confirmed that the sides are close to a deal.
"We do have something in place, and we are just trying to get it finalized at this point," Bick said. "It's not a done deal yet, but we're working in that direction."
Guerrier, a right-hander whose entire, seven-year career to this point has been spent with the Minnesota Twins, is a durable reliever who led the American League in appearances in both 2008 and 2009 and has topped 70 appearances each of the past four seasons.
Guerrier, 32, will round out the back end of the Dodgers bullpen, an area that is a bit shaky because closer Jonathan Broxton performed so poorly during the second half of 2010 that he lost the job and primary setup man Hong-Chih Kuo, who performed well enough to make the National League All-Star team and supplant Broxton as closer, still has to be used sparingly because of concerns about his physical well-being.
Guerrier presumably will fill a seventh-inning role on nights when Kuo is available and an eighth-inning role on nights when he isn't.
Guerrier reportedly drew interest from several clubs, including Colorado, Boston, Toronto and Baltimore, but Bick said it was important to his client to pitch for a contender.
"[The market] was pretty good," Bick said. "But there were self-imposed limitations because he didn't want to be anywhere that wasn't a competitive club on an annual basis. In the years Matt spent with Minnesota, they have been right in the thick of things every year. He likes it that way and wants to keep it that way. So there were a number of [interested clubs] that were never considerations."
According to one source, both the Red Sox and Rockies offered Guerrier a two-year contract with a vesting club option for a third year, with a total value exceeding $12 million if the option were to vest. Bick didn't address specifics of the negotiations, but he did concede that Guerrier potentially could have gotten a more lucrative contract elsewhere.
"There is some degree of accuracy to that in terms of average annual value," Bick said. "That is absolutely the case."
Guerrier has a 3.38 ERA in 393 career appearances for the Twins and a career strikeout-to-walk ratio of better than 2-to-1. He will be one of five Dodgers relievers -- along with Broxton, Kuo, Vicente Padilla and newly acquired Blake Hawksworth -- with a guaranteed spot in the bullpen, with Ronald Belisario, Scott Elbert, Kenley Jansen, Carlos Monasterios and Ramon Troncoso competing in spring training for the final two spots.
Brent Leach, Jon Link and Travis Schlichting also could be dark-horse candidates for bullpen spots, but each of them probably would have to have an outstanding spring in order to make the opening-day roster.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.