Chicago Cubs Sign RP Joe Nathan; Recovering From Tommy John Surgery
The Chicago Cubs have signed veteran closer Joe Nathan to a major league contract. He is one of the best closers of the 2000’s and ranks 8th all time in career saves with 377. However, it’s been over a year since he appeared in a major league game and will be a while before he pitches in another one as the Cubs immediately placed him on the 60-day disabled list after agreeing to terms.
Nathan last pitched for the Detroit Tigers in April of 2015 before injuring his elbow that required Tommy John surgery. He is still recovering from the procedure, but has begun throwing and the Cubs hope he can be ready to pitch by sometime in July. He was an all-star as recently as 2013 for the Texas Rangers, a season in which he finished with 43 saves, a 1.39 ERA, a WAR of 3.2, and WHIP of just 0.897.
Still, that was 3 seasons ago. Nathan is now 41 years old, coming off a major injury in 2015 and an ineffective last full season of 2014 with the Tigers. He saved 35 games for them, but with a 4.81 ERA and a negative WAR.
It’s a low-risk and potentially high-reward move for the Cubs, who intend to be playing deep into October. It’s unlikely that Nathan will ever blow away major league hitters and be an elite closer again, but he may provide a dependable veteran arm and bullpen depth to a team contending for the World Series.
If he’s good it’s great, and if he’s bad it’s ok because he’s going to cost the Cubs virtually nothing to take a short-term gamble on.
(Chicago Cubs Sign RP Joe Nathan)