Joe Nathan says Mets are “on radar” this offseason

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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.

Julio Urias to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery

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The news has gone from bad to worse for Dodgers’ left-hander Julio Urias, who is scheduled for anterior capsule surgery on his left shoulder next Tuesday and expected to be sidelined through the middle of the 2018 season. His MRI came back negative on Wednesday, giving the Dodgers some hope that the 20-year-old’s bout of shoulder inflammation wasn’t masking any structural damage, but the pain lingered several days later and prompted further concern from the club. The procedure will be performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

Urias was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City in late May and placed on the disabled list with left shoulder discomfort several weeks into his assignment. At the major league level, he owned a 5.40 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 4.2 SO/9 through 23 1/3 innings, going 0-2 in five starts with Los Angeles. He made a brief rebound in Triple-A, posting three wins and striking out 17 of 67 batters in 17 1/3 innings before landing on the DL.

It’s a tough blow for the southpaw, who had yet to hit his stride in the majors before getting sidelined with shoulder issues. The Dodgers were especially mindful of this outcome for Urias, and had taken preventative measures to protect his arm by establishing a strict innings limit last season. According to club president Andrew Friedman, there’s a small silver lining here: while Urias’ injury will keep him out of work for at least 12 months, he doesn’t appear to have sustained any damage to his labrum or rotator cuff, and could be facing a much more streamlined recovery process as a result. Whether he’ll be able to rebound once he takes the mound again remains to be seen.

Tigers release Francisco Rodriguez

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Tigers’ right-handed reliever Francisco Rodriguez was released on Friday, per a team announcement. The club recalled fellow right-hander Bruce Rondon from Triple-A Toledo in a corresponding move.

The former closer got the boot after losing his closing role in early May, giving left-hander Justin Wilson a chance to impress at the back end of the bullpen. It’s been a rough year for Rodriguez, who manufactured six blown saves and a 7.82 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 25 1/3 innings for the Tigers. The final straw, it seemed, came with Robinson Cano‘s grand slam in the seventh inning of the Tigers’ 6-9 loss to the Mariners on Thursday.

While the demotion to a clean-up role and an apparent lack of communication caused Rodriguez considerable frustration, he’s two years removed from his last dominant performance as a major league closer and has shown few signs of returning to form. His recent slump doesn’t diminish the impressive totals he’s racked up over his 16-year career — 437 saves and six All-Star nominations among them — but if he can’t break out of it soon, he may not receive the kind of high leverage role he’s seeking with another big league team, either.