Joe Nathan apologizes to Tigers fans for chin-flick gesture

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Tigers closer Joe Nathan came into last night’s game in the ninth inning with a four-run lead and walked the first two batters he faced, at which point many of the fans in Detroit began booing him.

Nathan, who has six blown saves and a 5.11 ERA in his first season with the Tigers, responded by making a chin-flick gesture that, loosely translated, means something similar to the middle finger.

This afternoon Nathan apologized for his actions, telling Jason Beck of MLB.com:

I think both sides were frustrated. I was frustrated. Fans obviously were frustrated. I think for myself, I apologize for that. I have two kids and I need to be a better example for them thinking how they’re still young enough that they won’t know about this. I do know, and I do need to be better for that. I know both sides are frustrated, but the thing is, we’re on the same page. The fans want to win, want us to win. We obviously want to win.

He went on to say a lot of other stuff along those same lines, making it clear that he has “no hard feelings” toward the fans and repeating apologizing.

It obviously hasn’t been pretty for Nathan this season and at age 39 he seems to be deep into the decline phase of his career after a brilliant decade-long run as one of the truly elite closers in baseball for the Twins and Rangers. He’s also under contract for $10 million next season, so if Nathan and Tigers fans don’t come to some sort of understanding 2015 could be ugly at Comerica Park.

Mets, Jacob deGrom agree to a five-year, $137.5 million contract extension

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The Mets have a deal on a contract extension with ace Jacob deGrom. Andy Martino of SNY was the first to report the deal. The terms, per Ken Rosenthal: five years, $137.5 million with a club option for 2024. deGrom gets a full no-trade clause and has a potential opt-out after 2022.

Sale was slated to earn $17 million this year, so the deal contains $120.5 million in new money. There will be some restructuring, however: he’ll still get $17 million this year, but $10 million of it is as as signing bonus and $7 million of it is in salary. He’ll get $23 million in 2020, $33.5 million in 2021 and 2022 and, if he doesn’t opt-out, $30.5 million in 2023 and $32.5 million as the club option in 2024. The overall average annual value of the deal — which covers this year and next year, which would’ve been arbitration, and three potential years of free agency, is $27.5 million

Overall, the contract is very similar to the one Chris Sale just signed, even though he is a year further from free agency. deGrom will earn $107 million between now and his opt-out date. Sale will earn $105 million. Of course, if the doesn’t opt-out the deal runs through 2023, with that club option for 2024.

deGrom, the 2018 Cy Young Award winner has made no secret of his desire for a contract extension. He, likewise, has said he would not discuss the matter with the Mets after the start of the season on Thursday. This, then, is getting the job done, just under the wire.

deGrom is coming off of a season in which he posted a 1.70 ERA with 269 strikeouts and 46 walks across 217 innings. It’s the lowest ERA by a qualified starter since Zack Greinke‘s 1.66 in 2015. Prior to Greinke, no pitcher had posted an ERA of 1.70 or lower since Greg Maddux in 1994-95 (1.56, 1.63).

deGrom will turn 31 years old in June. He’ll be 35 when the deal ends or, if the option is picked up, 36.