Report: Mutual interest between the Tigers and Joe Nathan

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The Tigers passed on Rafael Soriano last winter and decided to go in-house at closer, eventually settling on Joaquin Benoit, but they are prepared to look to free agency to fill the role this offseason.

Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com reports that “mutual interest” has developed between the Tigers and Joe Nathan. After declining his $9.5 million option with the Rangers earlier this month, Nathan is said to have the Tigers “high on his wish list.”

Nathan turns 39 later this month, but he’s back to near-vintage form after his Tommy John surgery in 2010, posting a 2.09 ERA over the past two seasons while going 80-for-86 in save chances. He stands a good chance to receive the multi-year contract he’s looking for, with Detroit as an obvious fit.

Royals sign Michael Saunders to a minor-league deal

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Free agent outfielder Michael Saunders has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Royals, the team announced Friday. While the move comes just two days after Saunders agreed to terms with the Pirates, he allegedly asked for his release after the club acquired outfielder Corey Dickerson in a multi-player swap with the Rays on Thursday.

After earning his first spot on an All-Star team in 2016, Saunders followed up a solid campaign with a career-worst performance in 2017. The 31-year-old split the season between the Phillies and Blue Jays’ camps, batting a combined .202/.256/.344 with six home runs and -0.7 fWAR in 234 plate appearances. Although he remained healthy throughout the year, with no sign of the lingering hamstring strain that has plagued him on and off since 2013, he wasn’t productive enough to merit a full-time role on either roster.

With Dickerson slated for a starting role in Pittsburgh, it was unlikely that Saunders would have commanded anything other than a backup role in 2018. Now, however, he’ll compete for playing time amid a slew of outfield options, including Alex Gordon, Cody Asche, Jorge Bonifacio, Tyler Collins and Paulo Orlando.