Guerrier, Twins hope to work out deal
Right-hander reliever, club avoided arbitration last offseason
MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins general manager Bill Smith and pitcher Matt Guerrier both hope to avoid an arbitration hearing this offseason by agreeing on a contract before a hearing can take place.But if it comes down to the sides having to go through with the entire arbitration process, Smith said Saturday at TwinsFest that he believes it can occur without any bad feelings on either side. "It doesn't have to be completely acrimonious," Smith said. "I remember we went with [Johan] Santana one year and beat him. I think that's the last thing we won with Santana. The whole argument of our case was that his number was too much, too soon. The guy that made our case must have said that 20 times. We said, 'We love him, he's great. He's done good things, but we think the number is X, not Y.' We won, and afterwards, Johan's agent came over and said that's as good of an arbitration case as you can have. There was no shouting back and forth." Guerrier and the Twins exchanged contract figures on Tuesday. Guerrier is seeking $1.75 million for the 2009 season while the Twins have offered $1.2 million. The sides had discussions in the days leading up to figures being exchanged, but since then no talks have taken place. Smith said that's a common occurrence. "Usually, there is a little break where everybody steps back to evaluate who filed where," Smith said. "It's not only where [the player] filed, but where everybody filed. You then basically look at midpoints, where everybody else filed and where you think the market is going to set in. But [the talks] will all heat back up." Guerrier said that he hasn't approached any of the front-office members about his contract situation during this weekend's TwinsFest. He believes that the sides will start talking again very soon and he hopes an agreement will be reached soon after that. "I'd like to get something worked out," Guerrier said on Saturday. "But you never know what's going to happen." Salary arbitration hearings are scheduled to take place this year from Feb. 1-21. In Guerrier's first year of arbitration last offseason, the sides avoided a hearing by agreeing to a one-year, $950,000 contract.
But unlike last year, Guerrier is coming off a disappointing 2008 season in which he went 6-9 with a 5.19 ERA in 76 1/3 innings. Although it wasn't Guerrier's best year, Smith said that the team is taking into consideration that the right-hander had improved every year he was with the club leading up to 2008 -- which included him pitching 149 games in the past two seasons."He has stepped up," Smith said. "So you take where he is on his one-year career, his platform year, and where he is on his career numbers and match those up against everybody this year and everybody in recent years. Hopefully the two sides are able to find a solution before you ever get to a hearing."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.