LOS ANGELES — The Twins lost a key piece to their bullpen today with the departure of Matt Guerrier to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers will reportedly pay the reliever around $12 million over three years. This will be the first time Guerrier will be suiting up for a team other than the Twins, as the 32 year old has spent his entire career with the Twins. In that time the right hander posted a 3.32 ERA over his six-plus seasons in Minnesota but had a MLB worst 5.19 ERA in 2008. Guerrier bounced back the next year with a 2.36. Guerrier lead the majors in appearances in ’08 and ’09 with 76 and 79 respectively.
Guerrier will be sorely missed as the bullpen of the Twins is arguably the most intense need for the club. Jesse Crain may be taking his talents elsewhere which would mean the Twins would be desperate for any kind of middle relief help. The Twins are hoping Pat Neshek can bounce back from Tommy John surgery, as he may be able to provide some relief (pun intended) and won’t be returning to the setup man role. That role has reportedly been given to Matt Capps, as Joe Nathan is expected to make a return this spring. Whether or not that happens is still up in the air, and if it doesn’t and Nathan isn’t ready, it will throw an already crippled bullpen into shambles. In addition the possibility the Twins can go out and sign a Free Agent reliever is fairly slim and this is thanks to a man named Joaquin Benoit. Benoit set the tone for relievers on the market when he signed a $16.5 million contract with the Tigers. Scott Downs didn’t help the financial cause either when he signed a $15 million deal with the Angles; both contracts were for 3 years. With the Twins aggressively involved in signing and investing money in starter Carl Pavano, and possibly DH Jim Thome, the Twins may find themselves pinching pennies. Some may find this hard to believe when the team sold out every single home game last season, but the wealth can’t all come in one season.
The bottom line is the Twins are flat-lining when it comes to middle relief. Brian Fuentes and Jon Rauch were solid in the slot, but will most likely not be back with the club next year. The Twins will probably look the way of Neshek and Glen Perkins to help fill the void as well as a few recent acquisition’s. When the club traded J.J Hardy to the Orioles, they received two pitchers in return, one of whom is Jim Hoey, but he hasn’t pitched in the Majors since 2007. The most likely solution would to do the ‘Twin Thing’ and look in-house to Anthony Slama, Alex Burnett, Rob Delaney and Carlos Gutierrez. Either way, the Twins will miss Matt Guerrier obviously more than they valued him.