REPORTS: Tigers sign closer Joe Nathan
The Detroit Tigers have had a No. 1 priority all offseason long: finding a closer.
Mission accomplished, apparently.
According to sources for Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi, the Tigers were close on Tuesday to signing former Texas and Minnesota closer Joe Nathan. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman later reported it was a done deal, for two years.
“Well, we hope to get a closer. That’s one thing we want to do. That’s our No. 1 need at this point,” Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski said after completing a deal to send Doug Fister to Washington for three players. “First and foremost, we’re looking for a closer, then we’ll go from there.”
It’s been the same thing all offseason long.
“You want to bring a closer back. We’re going to have a closer, so we’ll want to pursue somebody to pitch at the back end of the bullpen,” Dombrowski said at the press conference to announce the hiring of new manager Brad Ausmus. “Joaquin (Benoit, last year’s closer, now a free agent) is in that group, but there are a lot of closers out there. It’s the one area where there are a lot of guys. That’s the one area I think we need to address, with him or someone else. And then we’ll look at the rest of the club.”
Nathan, who maintains a good friendship with former Minnesota teammate Torii Hunter, expressed his interest in the Tigers earlier in the offseason, urged along by a few texts from Hunter.
Contrary to reports that former Giants closer and Dodgers reliever Brian Wilson was higher on their list, it appears the Tigers returned the interest in Nathan. Reports from several sources said the talks with Wilson had stalled out.
Despite the fact that he turned 39 a little over a week ago, and he’s lost a few ticks off the fastball, it does not appear Nathan’s skills are greatly diminishing.
The six-time All-Star recorded 80 saves in his two years in Texas, posting an ERA of 2.09 over that span. Last year, he had 43 saves, and an ERA of 1.39.