Oakland Athletics: Potential Free Agent Targets this Offseason

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Joe Nathan, Relief Pitcher, Detroit Tigers

Apr 3, 2015; Lakeland, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joe Nathan (36) throws a pitch during the seventh inning of a spring training baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

One of the A’s biggest flaws of the 2014-15 season was their horrendous bullpen. Out of all teams in the AL, the Athletics’ 4.61 ERA ranked dead last. Their ERA ranks second to last in the entire MLB, with only the Colorado Rockies doing worse.

It is evident that the team needs some bullpen help. While the market is saturated with mid-level talent, one way the team can go is taking a risk and signing Joe Nathan.

Nathan has a $10 million dollar option attached to him, but with him coming off an injury and the Tigers looking more and more like they’re going to be a rebuilding team, it’s unlikely they pick up that option.

The A’s can sign him for much cheaper, but before they do they must do their homework. Nathan is coming off of an elbow injury, and he will be 40 years old, so there are a lot of negatives.

But looking past the negatives you will see one of the best closers in the league just three years ago. If the A’s decide to go this route they will be signing a low risk high reward guy who can eventually pay off in the bullpen if he stays healthy.

For his career, Nathan has a 2.89 ERA with 377 saves and 967 strikeouts. It has yet to be seen if his numbers are good enough for Hall of Fame consideration, but it currently it seems more probable than not. Nathan is also a six time All Star and has finished in the top five in Cy Young voting twice.

As recently as 2013, Nathan seemed to be on top of his game. He pitched to a 1.39 ERA with 43 saves and 73 strikeouts. That was during a season in which he was 38 years old, so it seems as if the injury bug is hitting him rather than Father Time.

Nathan would make a great setup man to probable closer Sean Doolittle. Doolittle has overpowering stuff and seemed to be able to take on the closer role when given the opportunity. If Nathan still has gas in the tank, the two can form a solid one-two punch in the back of the bullpen.

Nathan won’t cost much, so there is no reason the A’s shouldn’t take a risk in bringing him in to be a part of their bullpen.

Next: Howie Kendrick