As expected, the Detroit Tigers declined the $10-million club option for right-handed reliever Joe Nathan this afternoon. Nathan will receive a $1-million buyout instead of rejoining the Tigers for 2016.
The 40-year-old is trying to return from his second Tommy John surgery. Nathan struck out Minnesota Twins outfielder Torii Hunter on Opening Day, but did not pitch the rest of the season because of a trip to the disabled list due to a torn ulnar collateral ligament and a flexor pronator tear in his right arm.
The sixth round pick in the 1995 MLB Draft had a rehab session with Triple-A Toledo that did not go well, as he re-injured himself, which kept him out for the rest of the season.
After two Tommy John surgeries over his career, most would think the soon to be 41-year-old will throw in the towel on his pitching career. Nathan, however, has decided to attempt to pitch again, instead of retiring. It will be interesting to see how Nathan makes his comeback, if a team will even pick him up.
"I'm preparing myself to come back and be a major league player again," Nathan said. "Regardless of what the future holds for me, I'm going to prepare myself to come back and play this game. Hanging my cleats never crossed my mind."
Before the 2014 season, the Tigers signed Nathan to a two-year, $20-million deal. In 2013, Nathan was an All-Star with the Texas Rangers as he owned a 1.39 ERA, 0.897 WHIP and 43 saves over 67 games pitched. Nathan is ranked eighth all-time with 377 games saved through 15 seasons.
In 2014, the closer produced a career-worst 4.81 ERA and 1.534 WHIP with seven blown saves over 62 games pitched in Detroit. It was a weird turn of events from Nathan's 2013 season to his 2014 season. The Tigers, who have struggled to find a dominant closer lately, thought they had the answer in Nathan, but the closer continuously fell off the tracks.
On Tuesday, the Tigers announced that the team purchased the contract of righty Luis Cessa from Triple-A Toledo.
Cessa, who is just 23, was a main part of the trade that sent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes from Detroit to the New York Mets with just minutes remaining in the trade deadline. The reason behind bringing the native of Veracruz, Mexico to the MLB roster was to protect the prospect from the Rule 5 Draft.
With Double-A Binghamton, Triple-A Los Vegas and Triple-A Toledo in 2015, Cessa went 8-10 with a 4.52 ERA over 25 games pitched.