10:38am: Nathan doesn’t appear to be considering retirement at this time, telling reporters (including Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press) that “I am preparing myself to be a major league player again. That is my goal.”
9:02am: Tigers righty Joe Nathan has torn the ulnar collateral ligament as well as a tendon in his right elbow, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports on Twitter. He will undergo surgery and miss the rest of the season, the team announced.
Nathan, 40, opened the year as Detroit’s closer despite a challenging 2014 season in which he posted a 4.81 ERA. He struck out just 8.4 batters per nine while walking 4.5 per nine, both of which were the worst marks of his career since he moved to the pen.
That was obviously not the output that the Tigers hoped for when they promised Nathan $20MM over two years through free agency. The club does hold a $10MM option for next season, but seems highly likely to instead pay a $1MM buyout at this juncture.
Nathan will undergo Tommy John surgery for the second time in his career, this time with the added complication of the tendon damage to account for. While it may be an uphill road at his age, that news seemingly indicates that there is at least some possibility that Nathan will attempt to resume his career.
Detroit probably did not expect Nathan to resume his once-dominant form in the closer’s role this year, but surely hoped he would at least be a valuable contributor and presence in the pen. As MLBTR’s Steve Adams explained in his review of the club’s offseason, the relief corps was a major question mark entering the year for the Tigers, and the team is certainly shaping up as a future acquirer of bullpen arms in the season’s early going.