Joe Nathan: Top 5 Landing Spots For All-Star Closer
Top 5 Landing Spots For Joe Nathan This MLB Off-Season
The Texas Rangers wanted Joe Nathan back for the 2014 MLB season, but Nathan figured he would test the free agent waters instead. Now, Nathan's decision couldn't have been an easy one considering the Rangers helped the All-Star closer resurrect his career in 2011, but apparently the one-year $9 million contract that Texas was offering just wasn't enough.
Therefore, Nathan enters the open market hoping to cash in on a long-term deal, even with his 39th birthday just weeks away. Rangers fans have grown accustomed to a great level of consistency with their closer as Nathan finished his two years in Texas with a 2.09 ERA and 80 saves. One look at Nathan's most recent numbers and it's clear that MLB teams are going to be lining up for a shot at Nathan's services this winter.
With that being said, a few teams are going to be willing to spend more on a closer than others. For example, a contending club with reliever issues such as the Detroit Tigers is more apt to sign Nathan then say the St. Louis Cardinals, who already have an emerging star in Trevor Rosenthal at the back end of their bullpen. However, MLB free agency is incredibly unpredictable, so here is a rundown of five MLB teams with a legitimate shot to sign their veteran closer this off-season.
No. 5: New York Mets
The New York Mets aren't the best team on this list in terms of wins and losses, but they do provide a nice landing spot for a money-hungry Joe Nathan. With Johan Santana's contract coming off of the books; New York is in prime position to sure up its bullpen and offer Nathan a better-than average contract.
Unfortunately, the issue here is going to be whether or not Nathan would be willing to play for a struggling team like the Mets.
No. 4: Colorado Rockies
No team in MLB has more flexibility this off-season than the Colorado Rockies. Superstars like Troy Tulowitzski, Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer are all on the trade block -- allegedly -- which means the Rockies are obviously mulling a few things over. One of which could be the fact that Colorado was 27th in the league in saves last year and Joe Nathan could surely help the Rockies in that specific category.
No. 3: Cleveland Indians
If you would have said this time last year that the Cleveland Indians would be in the running for a closer, then I would have called you crazy. However, Chris Perez went form an All-Star reliever to someone with a drug problem who lost his job late in the regular season. Cleveland recorded 38 saves in 2013 just one year after placing in the top 15 in that stat the year before. Joe Nathan would help the Indians go from an easy out in the playoffs to a more stout team considering Nathan's dominance in the last two years.
No. 2: New York Yankees
Now this is a fun one.
Mariano Rivera is no longer in a New York Yankees uniform, which opens the door for the Bronx Bombers to make a move this off-season and solidify their bullpen. Not only would Joe Nathan immediately be the best closer on the Yankees' roster if signed, he would also be the team's best reliever! New York should not feel comfortable going from the best closer of all time in Rivera to some unknown, so don't be surprised if Nathan heads for the Big Apple this winter.
No. 1: Detroit Tigers
The Detroit Tigers were oh-so close to the World Series title once again in 2013. However, the Tigers' bullpen woes helped the Boston Red Sox take home the American League pennant and advance to the Fall Classic. Joaquin Benoit was supposed to be the closer of the future for Detroit, but his postseason struggles made everyone realize that he's best suited for a set-up role. Not to mention, the Tigers also declined Jose Veras' team option for the 2014 campaign, who many thought could serve as the Tigers' next closer.
With Joe Nathan in the mix, the Tigers would feel much comfortable with late-inning leads. Keep in mind that the Tigers were 21st in MLB in saves last season, so bringing Nathan to town would be a massive step in the right direction for the Motor City.