Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi are both reporting the Detroit Tigers are near a deal with the top free agent reliever on the market, Joe Nathan. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports confirms the the team will agree to a two-year deal with Nathan. Rosenthal reports the Nathan contract will be in the range of $20 million.
Reports have had Nathan looking to sign a multi-year deal worth more than $10 million a season. He turned down a $9 million contract option with the Texas Rangers in order to become a free agent.
The Tigers have spent the last two weeks shedding payroll with the controversial trades of Prince Fielder and Doug Fister. It appears they decided to spend a great deal of that savings on Nathan, a 39-year-old veteran right-hander. This goes against earlier reports which had the Tigers in serious negotiations with closer Brian Wilson.
According to USA Today's Jerry Crasnick, Wilson recently broke off negotiations with the Tigers and is looking at other options.
After spending the early part of his career with the San Francisco Giants, Nathan has been an elite closer since his breakout season with the Minnesota Twins in 2004. After stepping into the closer's role, Nathan has averaged 38 saves a season pitching for the Twins and Rangers.
After eight seasons and 260 saves as the Twins' closer, Nathan recorded 80 saves in 86 attempts as a Ranger, posting a 2.09 ERA in 133 appearances and 129 innings pitched. Showing no signs of decline in his final year as a Ranger, Nathan's 43 saves in 2013 was fourth best in the AL, posting a 1.39 ERA in 64 2/3 innings.