MLB’s offseason is only two weeks old, and the hot stove is beginning to heat up already.
According to a tweet from Jon Morosi, MLB insider for Fox Sports, “Mutual Interest has already developed between Tigers and free agent closer Joe Nathan. Nathan has Detroit high on his wish list.”
The fact that the Tigers are pursuing a closer should come as no surprise to Tigers fans. General Manager Dave Dombrowski did not extend a qualifying offer to any of the Tigers’ free agents, including last year’s closer Joaquin Benoit, making him an unrestricted free agent.
During new manager Brad Ausmus’ introductory press conference last Sunday, Dombrowski confirmed they would pursue a pitcher to fill the void in the closer role.
“We’re going to have a closer — we’re going to pursue somebody to pitch at the back end of the bullpen,” Dombrowski said. “Joaquin (Benoit) 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.”
One of the top names in that group of closers is 12-year veteran Joe Nathan. Nathan, 38, is a familiar name for Tigers fans, as he pitched the majority of his career closing out games with division-rival, the Minnesota Twins. His last two seasons have been spent with the Texas Rangers, where in 2013, he finished with a very impressive 1.39 ERA and 0.90 WHIP while converting 43 out of his 46 save opportunities.
It seems as if an elite closer has been the missing piece for a Tigers team that has come up short three consecutive years in the playoffs. If the six-time All-Star Nathan is not the answer, the Tigers may look to reunite with Benoit or other relievers on the market, including Grant Balfour, Fernando Rodney and Jesse Crain.
Michael Higer is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports