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.
Nothing went right for the Blue Jays this weekend. The club was swept in a four-game series against the Athletics, including a 9-2 loss on Sunday. Not wanting to burn out his bullpen in a lopsided game — and perhaps thinking about the general entertainment value involved — Blue Jays manager John Gibbons decided to send designated hitter Kendrys Morales out to pitch the ninth inning. And in typical baseball fashion, he saw better results than some of the dudes who do this all the time.
Morales, who actually pitched in Cuba nearly 20 years ago, worked around a walk for a scoreless inning. He induced three fly outs and topped out at 87.4 mph on his fastball, per Brooks Baseball. He received a standing ovation on the way back to the dugout. Morales hasn’t been hearing that sort of thing for his contributions with the bat recently.
Morales, 34, is batting just .163/.248/.279 with three home runs through 32 games this season. There’s been some understandable clamoring for top prospect Vladmir Guerrero, Jr. to cut into his at-bats. For his part, Morales has been doing everything he can to break out of his slumber at the plate, including ditching the glasses he started wearing during spring training. Hey, whatever works. Morales also had two of Toronto’s four hits on Sunday.
On the heels of Morales’ first MLB appearance on the mound, it feels rather appropriate that the Blue Jays will get their first look at Angels sensation Shohei Ohtani — at least as a hitter — beginning on Tuesday.