And the Joe Nathan courtship begins

The Tigers have declared their interest in a closer, and Joe Nathan is the most successful closer on the free-agent market this winter. Nathan is looking for a chance at a World Series ring, and the Tigers might be the closest contending team that’s looking for a closer.

The pieces are there for mutual interest. And according to Jon Morosi of, the interest has already developed.

Nathan’s agent, Dave Pepe, isn’t commenting on teams’ inquiries or interest, and intends to keep negotiations in general as quiet as possible. He did, however, say it’s very early in the process with any team and nowhere close to a deal. If there are talks, they aren’t serious yet.

That said, the expectation is that these two sides are going to try. Morosi cited sources saying Nathan has the Tigers high on his list of teams. And Tigers manager Brad Ausmus’ comments on local radio a few days ago seemingly reflected interest on Detroit’s part.

“I am a Joe Nathan fan for sure,” Ausmus told Detroit Sports 105.1 FM last week. “But where Joe Nathan ends up is a little out of my control.”

The Tigers know Nathan well from his days with the Minnesota Twins, where he and Torii Hunter were teammates from 2004 to 2007. Nathan is 36-for-36 in save chances for his career against Detroit, allowing just 10 runs on 33 hits over 62 2/3 innings with 23 walks and 75 strikeouts. His only loss against the Tigers came on July 19, 2007, when Brandon Inge doubled in Neifi Perez in the 10th inning at the Metrodome.

He posted some of his best numbers this past season at age 38, going 6-2 with a 1.39 ERA and 43 saves in 46 chances. The stats sound a lot like his career against Detroit: 64 2/3 innings pitched, 36 hits, 10 runs, 22 walks, 73 strikeouts.

“We’re going to have a closer,” team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said last week. “We’re going to pursue somebody to pitch at the back end of the bullpen. Joaquin [Benoit] is in that group, but there are a lot of closers out there. It’s the one area where there’s a lot of guys. That is one area I think we need to address, with him or someone else, and then we’ll look at the rest of our club.”


what would the logic be to sign an older pitcher (nathan) to a bigger contract than the younger guy you just got rid of (benoit)? in 2013…….xfip (nathan) 3.27 vs (benoit) 3.16….

Nathan has nine years as a closer. Benoit has four months with some serious hiccups the last month.

and Nathan provided the Rangers with quite a few nail-biters last yr as well…I agree on the younger comments…especially if Nathan is looking for a contract over 1 year.

He opted out of a 9 M contract. So he is expected to ask 20-23/2 years.
Benoit failed in the big moment. Can he take that out of the system? That is not easy,carers have been destroyed by moments like the HR.
They can have both . There are 7 closers available. Even with the Yankees on the market ,it is a a buyers market for bullpen.

what did we spend last year on the pen….14-15M? 11-12 a year to one guy-nathan? plus benoit 7-8M a year…. mmmmm interesting

It is time for a change

for the records i also would have accepted he gives up too many HRs

MLBTR is talking about 26 M/2 years.

signing an old “closer” sounds like a recipe for disaster to me. Seems the way to go these days is to have as good a pen as possible and someone emerges during the year….. So long as you don’t have a stubborn old manager who is unwilling to try anything different.

I am not a huge fan of getting another older guy on the team. I appreciate experience and he is proven, but I am a bit leery.

Same here, Tiger Girl. He will be 39 soon. Can he still close 2 nights in a row? Benoit struggles with it sometimes.

he’ll cost about 1M shy of last years whole pen too, at 40. Remember my theme this offseason is signing young FAs… not FAs roughly Octavio Dotel’s age.
I agree with snippy – spend the money more evenly throughout the pen. Lopez, Mujica, and Perez all might be signed to the same amount of money, no?

i mean you might be able to sign all three of them for ~13-14MM a year.

Good question, and I looked it up. Nathan pitched back-to-back days on 13 separate occasions this year, 3 straight days on 4 occasions, and 4 straight days twice. The stats say he did it effectively. The thing he did not do at his age was the four-out save; he pitched more than one inning only once.

Spread out the money among some of the better relievers out there rather than putting it all in one basket…we have too many players tied up into long term contracts because DD has an open checkbook. Every year we hear we;re so close and get sucked in…Wilson, Balfour—then maybe Nathan…I love players coming from the A’s…they have heart.

There are some good ones out there. And we DO need one. As good as and as nice a guy as JB is I don’t think he has that dominating, fearsome presence that the elite closers have.
DD made a big mistake last year in this regard, he knows it, and he won’t repeat it.
He has some leverage in offsetting a ridiculous deal by having Rondon in his deck of cards. If he goes for a big name I don’t see them keeping Benoit.
A big question will again be hitting. If Prince plays out of the top 10 1st sackers again and has WAR that sits near the bottom of the stack, we are going to have a multitude of problems exposed.

Well, OK then if you think he’s the best or one of the best.

A very interesting read comparing Max and Rick’s trade values:

Who cares if he is older? Closers are less likely to wear out with age than any other type of player. They come in sporadically, throw 20-25 pitches and are done. Guys can do that into their early 40’s no problem. They require mental toughness as much as anything, and that is what experience gives you.

Nathan is one of the best. No reason not to go after him as long as he can still bring it, and last year indicated that he absolutely still can. Just don’t sign him for anything more than 2 years.

20 Million! Must be nice to be DD.

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