Veteran reliever Joe Nathan posted a disappointing 4.84 ERA in 44 2/3 innings this season. And while his numbers were greatly improved in the second half, the Twins made the no-brainer decision earlier this month to decline his $12.5M option for 2012.
Nathan will become a free agent on Thursday, allowed to sign with any team he chooses.
From the sound of it, he’s already expecting to hear from one particular organization.
According to Greg Logan of Newsday, the 36-year-old right-hander told a group of people at Stony Brook University this weekend that he would enjoy finishing out his career with the Mets, a team he grew up rooting for as a child of Pine Bush, New York.
“We’re definitely not counting any teams out,” said Nathan, a Stony Brook alum. “But obviously, the Mets are going to be on my radar. It’s a team I followed growing up around this area. That would be exciting. The dollars are kind of on the back burner. It’s all about winning right now. Where I’m at in my career, I just want to be on a club that has a chance to go to the postseason and have a chance to pitch in big games.”
The Mets, in their current state, probably fall short of meeting that “chance to go the postseason” criterion. But it sure sounds like Nathan would offer his “hometown team” a small discount if they’re interested.
On Monday, Major League Baseball announced some changes aimed at improving the game’s pace of play, something that has been a pet cause for commissioner Rob Manfred. Among the changes was a limit on mound visits whether from managers and coaches, the catcher, or other defenders. Each team will have six non-pitching change mound visits per game and one additional visit each inning in extra innings. Craig wrote more in depth on the changes here if you happened to miss it.
Angels catcher Martin Maldonado says he is going to do what’s necessary to stay on the same page with his pitchers. Via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Maldonado said, “If the game is on the line, I’m going to go out there. If we’re at six [visits], and it’s going to be the seventh, I’m going to go out there, even if I have to pay a fine. I’m there for the pitchers.”
Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said as much on Tuesday. Per Josh Frydman of WGN News, Contreras said, “What about if you have a tight game and you have to go out there? They can’t say anything about that, that’s my team and we just care about wins. If they’re going to fine me about number seven mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”
Exhibition games haven’t even started yet, but two notable backstops — the lesser-known Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year — are clearly not happy with the rule change. As Craig alluded to in his article yesterday, arguments between catchers and umpires (and, subsequently, managers and umpires) are probably going to become more frequent, which would likely end up nullifying any pace of play improvements.
Update (4:43 PM ET): In response to this, Manfred said that if a catcher or coach made a seventh mound visit, there would have to be a pitching change (via Fletcher). However, chief baseball officer Joe Torre said (via SB Nation’s Eric Stephen) that the seventh visit cannot trigger a pitching change. The umpire would simply have to prevent the seventh mound visit.