Free agency has seen more rumors than actual signings, as we continue to look at free agents that could fill a need with the Dodgers.

Today, we take a look at a right-handed closer that spent his last nine seasons in the American League:

Joe Nathan

Nathan is a 38-year-old right-handed reliever that pitched for the Texas Rangers last season. In his major league career, Nathan has a 2.76 ERA with 341 career saves.

2013 Season

The Rangers used Nathan as their closer and he had a strong season finishing with 43 saves in 46 chances and a 1.39 ERA in 64.2 innings. In 67 appearances, Nathan had 73 strikeouts, finishing 61 games for the Rangers. He was tough overall, as his splits are almost identical in several categories such as home/away and versus left-handers or right-handers.

Pros

Nathan has been very effective the last two seasons in Texas, racking up 80 saves with a 2.09 ERA and 151 strikeouts in 129 innings. He can handle the pressure of closing out games and can get hitters out when needed. In the last nine seasons, Nathan has had only one season in which his ERA was above 2.80 and has become a reliable reliever.

Although the Dodgers wouldn’t need him to close, the fact that Nathan has the experience and mentality as a closer would be extremely beneficial to the bullpen. Last year, the Dodgers had four pitchers in the bullpen that had previous experience as a closer and all but one were successful in their role. On nights where Jansen needs a rest, Nathan can fill the ninth-inning void and finish the game.

The 38-year-old declined his 2014 option with the Rangers and has made it clear that he wants to join a winner. Nathan has never made it to the World Series in his career and wants to reach one before he calls it a career. The Dodgers have a strong core returning next season and management has made it clear that they’ll do whatever it takes to win. Nathan would be joining a team that has the same ideas as him and would be a great presence in the bullpen with the younger relievers.

Cons

Nathan is 38-years-old and has been rumored to be asking for a multi-year deal this winter. Although he’s been extremely productive the past two seasons, Nathan is nearing 40 and is just three years removed from Tommy John surgery. He’s recovered from the surgery with great results and while the surgery is no longer the red flag it used to be there’s still cause for concern for a veteran reliever that relies on power stuff.

The right-hander has been a closer since his days with the Minnesota Twins back in 2004. It isn’t known whether he would accept a reduced role with a new team, even if they are suited for a deep playoff run. There are a few playoff teams that could use Nathan as a closer, which could drive up the price and put the Dodgers out of play.

In the postseason, Nathan has a career 9.00 ERA in nine games, his most recent experience being the 2012 AL Wild Card game where he allowed two runs in an inning of work. Nathan made the playoffs four separate times with the Twins and only had one scoreless appearance in eight tries. The Dodgers plan to reach the World Series next season and will need a reliable arm out of the bullpen that can handle the postseason pressure.

Potential Contract 

Last off-season, closer Rafael Soriano received a two-year, $28 million deal with the Washington Nationals, but he was five years younger than Nathan. With closers Grant Balfour, Fernando Rodney, Joaquin Benoit and others with experience on the market, Nathan has widely been chosen as the cream of the crop. He’ll likely receive his multi-year deal and make about $12-14 million per season. Look for teams to top out at a two-year deal worth $24-28 million for the right-hander.

Chances Dodgers Sign Him: 1%

The Dodgers have their closer for next season and the future in Kenley Jansen and won’t be looking for another closer; however, if Brian Wilson signs elsewhere the Dodgers could be looking for relief help, preferably in the setup role. If the Dodgers throw enough money at him, Nathan could accept that role for the Dodgers.

Nathan has been linked to the Detroit Tigers and would be a fit for a playoff team that reached the ALCS last season, but with Dodger management promising to do whatever it takes to bring home a championship, anything is possible this off-season.

Expect the Dodgers to try and re-sign Wilson and J.P. Howell and return most of the same bullpen that led the league in ERA last season.

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About The Author

Vince is currently the Associate Editor and Social Media Manager for Dodgers Nation. Hailing from San Pedro, CA and a student at Cal State Long Beach, Vince has previously written for the Daily 49er and LASF Magazine.

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