The Nationals are re-signing reliever Joe Nathan to a minor league deal, reports FanRag’s Jon Heyman (Twitter link). Nathan opted out of his previous minors contract with the Nationals on March 27, but he was then unable to land a major league pact elsewhere.
The 42-year-old Nathan threw just 6 2/3 big league innings over the previous two seasons, largely because he underwent his second Tommy John procedure while with the Tigers in April 2015. He returned to the majors with the Cubs and Giants last season and fired 6 1/3 scoreless innings with nine strikeouts, though he did walk four. In 923 1/3 career frames, Nathan has posted a 2.87 ERA, 9.51 K/9 and 3.35 B/9. The longtime closer has also amassed 377 saves, good for eighth on the all-time list.
Now, Nathan will look to make it back to the majors with the Nationals, whose bullpen entered Sunday with a 7.71 ERA over its first 18 1/3 innings of the season. The club’s top late-game options are closer Blake Treinen and setup men Koda Glover, Joe Blanton and Shawn Kelley, another two-time Tommy John recipient. Glover took the loss against the Phillies on Sunday, when he entered a 3-3 game in the bottom of the ninth and allowed the winning run on two singles and a walk.