Right-hander Joe Nathan last donned a Giants uniform in 2003, but it looks like he’ll have the chance to do so again in the near future, as Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that Nathan is set to sign a minor league pact with San Francisco (Twitter link). The deal is still pending a physical, tweets Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Originally selected by the Giants in the sixth round of the 1995 draft, Nathan broke into the Majors with the Giants in 1999 and settled in as a strong late-inning relief option with a breakout season in 2003. That campaign preceded a trade that sent Nathan, Francisco Liriano and Boof Bonser to the Twins in exchange for A.J. Pierzynski, after which Nathan went on to establish himself as one of the most successful closers in recent history. At 41 years of age and with a recent Tommy John surgery under his belt, Nathan is no lock to perform like he did in his peak years with the Twins and Rangers, but he looked solid during a brief stint with the Cubs in 2016 and will give manager Bruce Bochy some much-needed depth in his bullpen, either later this month or perhaps when rosters expand in September. Schulman tweets that the Giants may not wait until Sept. 1 to bring Nathan up if he is throwing well.
Current closer Santiago Casilla has had some struggles since the All-Star break, most recently blowing a two-run lead against the Orioles by serving up a three-run homer to Jonathan Schoop over the weekend. Nathan could eventually join Hunter Strickland, Derek Law, Sergio Romo and George Kontos as another right-handed option for Bochy to deploy in the final weeks of a playoff push. The six-time All-Star allowed four runs on three hits and five walks with nine strikeouts in 9 1/3 innings on a minor league rehab assignment earlier this summer and fired a pair of scoreless innings for the Cubs (two hits, two walks, four strikeouts) before being designated for assignment and subsequently released.