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Joe Nathan finalizes two-year contract with Tigers

Dec 4, 2013, 3:45 PM EDT

Joe Nathan Getty Getty Images

Joe Nathan‘s deal with the Tigers is now official and it’s a two-year contract believed to be worth $20 million with a team option for 2016, when the closer will be 41 years old.

Nathan made the right call to turn down his $9 million player option with the Rangers, correctly predicting that he could get a multi-year deal for similar annual money even at age 39.

Since returning from Tommy John elbow surgery that cost him the entire 2010 season Nathan has thrown 174 innings with a 2.80 ERA and 194 strikeouts, including 43 saves with a 1.39 ERA and 73/22 K/BB ratio in 65 innings this year.

Also of note: Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski told Jason Beck of MLB.com that he doesn’t expect to re-sign Joaquin Benoit as a setup man for Nathan because another team will probably sign him as a closer.

  1. historiophiliac - Dec 4, 2013 at 3:49 PM

    This is the only move we’ve made so far I’ve liked.

    • thepoolshark - Dec 4, 2013 at 3:59 PM

      Joe is a classy guy, and a fine pitcher. Great addition for the Tigers.

      • historiophiliac - Dec 4, 2013 at 4:13 PM

        Thanks to Torii for helping grease the wheels on this one.

    • timberwolvesbrisin - Dec 5, 2013 at 10:40 AM

      Enjoy him choking in big games. He is always good for a blown playoff game. He’s been blowing big games back to his days with the Twins(04-05 playoffs).

  2. phillysports1 - Dec 4, 2013 at 3:51 PM

    You don’t like the fielder move ?

  3. warpd - Dec 4, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    Why would he like a transaction that makes the Tigers a worse team?

    • baseballisboring - Dec 4, 2013 at 6:06 PM

      For 2014, possibly. But beyond 2014…I think the Tigers will be reeeeal happy they shed most of that contract. I wasn’t crazy about the Fister deal though…

  4. tjvalley - Dec 4, 2013 at 4:01 PM

    I’m not even a fan of Detroit but I think the fielder move was a very smart move. They got rid of a handcuffing contract that would of hurt the team easily the last 3 years of it. I like fielder but I dont feel he’s going to hold up for the term of the contract.

    • historiophiliac - Dec 4, 2013 at 4:18 PM

      It might have freed up some money but at this point we are not significantly better offensively or defensively based on the moves made so far — except for picking up Nathan. I hope there is more to come. There isn’t really any point in going cheap if it won’t help you win and that’s your short-term goal.

      • baseballisboring - Dec 4, 2013 at 6:09 PM

        It freed up a really big chunk of money, though, and improved their defense + plugged a hole at 2nd, and they’ll have much more flexibility in the future. I’d be in favor of it if I were a Tigers fan.

      • historiophiliac - Dec 4, 2013 at 6:24 PM

        Having money just to have money is pointless, and our offense is not better. Plus, I think our defense is worse with the loss of Fister. Is Kinsler better than Infante? Yeah, but that wasn’t what cost us the ALCS.

      • pwshrugged - Dec 4, 2013 at 6:14 PM

        Pretty sure that we’re -significantly- better defensively with Fielder gone and Cabrera back to 1B, along with the roster flexibility to DH Cabrera if he suffers an injury and let V-Mart play 1B from time to time. Given that it also allows the top organizational prospect to play his natural position in the Bigs… say what you want about Fielder’s bat (which wasn’t really suited for Comerica, anyway), his subtraction from the roster makes the Tigers a much better defensive team.

      • historiophiliac - Dec 4, 2013 at 6:30 PM

        You are assuming that Castellanos will excel at 3B, but that remains to be seen. If he’s no better than Don Kelly, I don’t think we are *significantly* better defensively. Also, Fister was a good defensive pitcher and we lost that. Overall, are we much better defensively now? Eh. Trading Fielder for Castellanos certainly doesn’t make us better offensively.

        The thing that cost us championships the last two years has been the bullpen. That’s the thing that needs significant upgrade. The rest of this might be nice, but is pointless in getting us closer to a championship if the bp remains a giant suckhole. Nathan is the sole positive step to make us a winning team so far. The rest is dressing. It may help but without bp upgrades, we won’t be WS champs again next year.

      • baseballisboring - Dec 4, 2013 at 6:38 PM

        You’re right…but I don’t think they’re freeing up money just to free up money. They’re trying to spread it more evenly around the roster, as evidenced by the Joe Nathan deal. I definitely don’t think they’re done.

      • pwshrugged - Dec 4, 2013 at 7:32 PM

        I won’t argue that Fister is a vastly underappreciated pitcher and I’m sad to see him go, especially for such a limited return. However, Cabrera – especially injured – was statuesque at 3B in the postseason; likewise, Prince made some blunders at 1B from time to time. I’m considering simply Prince and Cabrera; together, they were one of the worst 1B/3B combos in the league, defensively. Cabrera is an upgrade defensively at 1B, and whoever we plug into 3B should be an upgrade defensively, even if it’s minute. The hope is that we can get strong production offensively out of our new 3B and/or whoever ends up playing LF.

        On that note, what will really kill me about this deal is if the money spent on Nathan precludes the Tigers from signing someone like Choo.

        As for the bullpen, I fail to see how this makes the bullpen significantly better. We have an aging closer whose velocity is declining with his age. He’s good, yes, and that’s great. But we still need to get to the 9th inning. Who’s taking us there? Benoit is gone. Smyly is likely headed to the rotation. Veras is gone. At this point, the most established names in the bullpen are Al-Al, Rondon, and Coke. I’d rather have seen that $10M spread around to add bullpen depth across the board. We had the same problem last year – the back-end of the bullpen was settled, but the middle relievers or the guys we’d bring in during tie games would take a dump on the mound.

      • historiophiliac - Dec 4, 2013 at 7:48 PM

        They picked up those new guys from the Nats, but YEAH what I want to see is some broader work on the bp — not more infielders. How many utility guys do we need? I think Nathan will be a big help (with experience). I’d like another couple of good additions — and not raw kids (or geezers). BP. BP. BP. I hope Dombrowski is listening.

  5. beefytrout - Dec 4, 2013 at 4:01 PM

    Nathan has really good stats, but if the Rangers had a 1-run lead, seeing him come in for the save was always a tense time. It seems like there was a runner at second or third about 80% of the time before he got the last out. Or he would just overpower batters for the first 2 strikes, and then take about 6-7 pitches to finish them off.

    But he got the contract he wanted, and I hope he has success in DET.

  6. xdj511 - Dec 4, 2013 at 4:06 PM

    Well at least the third year is only a team option… the Tigers didn’t have to give three guaranteed years to sign him… what are the odds that option is picked up?

  7. phillysports1 - Dec 4, 2013 at 4:08 PM

    It doesn’t makes your team worse . What are you talking about ? Fielder sucks in the playoffs lol

    • historiophiliac - Dec 4, 2013 at 4:35 PM

      That sound you don’t hear is people rolling their eyes at you. nolol

  8. TBaySlim - Dec 4, 2013 at 5:16 PM

    i’ve always been the camp that JN is overated, and when push comes to shove against good teams he is very average if not below average, i mean the guy carries a life time ERA of 9.00 in the playoffs and a whip of 2.44, this guy doesnt blow people away with the heater anymore and watching him sqeem and sqirm on the mound in anxiety is just a nature of how he closes game. over paid, over rated

    • beelza - Dec 4, 2013 at 8:17 PM

      I totally agree. Detroit should have given the 2/20 million deal to Rodney, b/c he is elite closer in MLB.

  9. pwshrugged - Dec 4, 2013 at 5:31 PM

    The whole closer argument is one of the more overrated in baseball; I think it’s a total misappropriation of funds to spend $10M/year on a guy who comes in for a single inning only in specific situations. I would have rather seen the Tigers spread the wealth out among a deeper pool of relievers; I feel like they could have found 3-4 decent guys and opened up a closer competition for that money, or tried to get a closer out of the Fister trade. Seriously, they couldn’t have dangled Fister to San Diego and picked up Luke Gregerson? I would rather have Gregerson than Nathan.

    With guys like Jesse Crain, Scott Downs, Grant Balfour, Ed Mujica available… I just don’t get it. But this goes back to my shock at them declining the $3.25M (I think) option on Veras. I’d be much happier with Veras still on the roster, Fister traded for Gregerson and prospects, and a signing of some lower profile RP.

    On the plus side, if this move doesn’t work out great, at least it only lasts a couple years. But I still feel like the team is reeling from losing last year’s ALCS and is scrambling to keep the window open (Fielder trade aside).

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