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Nathan Warms to the Twins

After spending the last year criticizing the organization and seeming to want out, Joe Nathan appears to be changing his tune.

“I know what I said, and that’s if the team is looking like it’s moving in one direction and not the direction that I’m looking to go, then it would be a less interesting place to stay,” Nathan said. “But even though we’ve lost a very key guy, I still feel like they’ve made some pretty good moves in this organization.

“Showing they are willing to sign guys like Michael Cuddyer and Justin Morneau long term definitely helps. I still have a good feeling about this team.”

He’s getting older, and clearly wants to be a winner before he retires. But now that the other malcontents have been silenced — by leaving through free agency, being traded, and signing a long term deal — Nathan doesn’t have the ammunition or player support to keep on complaining. All he wants now is a big contract. He claims to know what his market value is (after seeing other closers sign huge contracts this offseason), and wants to be paid like an elite closer. Fortunately, he is no longer sure that that can only happen if he leaves.
“I hope the two paths cross and we can come up with something that works for both of us,” Nathan said. “I hope I can continue to play in the city that I always said is a great city to play in with great fans, a great organization, a great staff and the players have always been great.”
I’d like to keep Nathan, obviously, because he anchors the bullpen and shortens the game. I’m a little bit concerned that he’s not as dominant as he once was, after seeing him struggle for an extended period last season, and he’s getting older. (He’s now one of two players on the roster over 30.) At the same time, I don’t see the Twins as being able to afford paying their closer $15M per season.

We’ll see what happens, but I personally think it’s unlikely that the Twins will trade Nathan this offseason. It’s getting late, and I doubt they’ll trade him during spring training.

2 comments

2 Comments so far

  1. FunBobby January 31st, 2008 9:34 am

    It seems to me like the market for closers is always at its peak at the trade deadline. Teams go into the season thinking they have some hard throwing young guy that can close. It turns out he can’t, so they get desperate thinking an elite closer will put them in the playoffs so they overpay. It seems to me that every year the astros believe they are one player short from being a world series contender. They have to lead the league in flashy, big splash deadline trade.

  2. sirsean January 31st, 2008 9:41 am

    That’s an excellent point. We very well could trade him at the deadline, when foolish teams are willing to throw away a top prospect to rent a closer.

    Although if there’s anything the last year or so have taught us, teams act rationally when they’re dealing with the Twins (and irrationally at all other times). This will get frustrating when the only offers we get for Nathan are a low-level prospect who doesn’t project to get to the majors. Especially when it’ll happen at the same time that an inferior reliever for another team is traded for an impact bat at AAA.

    But still … there’s no reason for the Twins to trade Nathan NOW.

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