Tigers close to signing Joe Nathan

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Now we know where that money the Tigers just saved is going: Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that Detroit is close to signing Joe Nathan.

That would be a huge step to addressing the Tigers’ bullpen issues, as Nathan is coming off a season in which he saved 43 games with a 1.39 ERA and 73/22 K/BB ratio in 65 innings for the Rangers. Overall in two seasons with Texas he posted a 2.09 ERA and Nathan previously had a 2.16 ERA during seven years in Minnesota.

Last month Nathan declined his $9 million player option with the Rangers to hit the open market in search of a two- or three-year deal. Certainly any 39-year-old pitcher is a risk on what will presumably be a multi-year contract, but Nathan has shown absolutely zero signs of slowing down and has been one of the elite closers in baseball for a decade now.

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.