Why Free-Agent Closer Joe Nathan and Detroit Tigers Are a Perfect Fit

Josh Schoch@JoshSchochAnalyst IIINovember 11, 2013

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 24:  Joe Nathan #36 of the Texas Rangers throws against the Houston Astros in the 9th inning at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on September 24, 2013 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The Detroit Tigers may look to Joe Nathan to solve their closer issues for the 2014 MLB season and beyond.

According to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, there is mutual interest between the two parties:

Sources: Mutual interest has developed already between Tigers and free agent closer Joe Nathan. Nathan has Detroit high on his wish list.

— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 11, 2013

Nathan turned in another dominant season for the Texas Rangers in 2013, saving 43 of his 46 opportunities while posting a 1.39 ERA and 0.90 WHIP in 67 appearances.

Arguably one of the top closers in the game, Nathan has actually been getting better over the past three years.

Joe Nathan Stats (2011-13)

It's been incredible to see the way Nathan has improved, especially considering that he is nearing the end of his career.

Joe Nathan turns 39 this month. But age didn’t stop Tigers from paying Todd Jones $18 million to close over age 38, 39, and 40 seasons.

— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 12, 2013

Nathan has improved with age like a fine wine, but there's no denying that he will eventually decline. The Tigers are hoping that that decline won't hit for another couple of years.

ARLINGTON, TX - JULY 23:  Joe Nathan #36 of the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on July 23, 2013 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The Tigers are in desperate need of a reliable closer.

The team had six different pitchers convert saves this season, with the best being Joaquin Benoit. However, Benoit is a free agent. The Tigers clearly either don't trust him enough to use him as their closer next season or think he won't be with the team next season, as they are actively pursuing Nathan, according to Morosi.

The deeper into the pairing you look, the more it makes sense.

The Tigers are trying to win now. The team is not building for the future, and is instead attempting to finally win a World Series right now after making it to the ALCS in each of the last three seasons and to one World Series.

Nathan wouldn't be a feasible option for the team after the next two seasons, as he will turn 41 in November after the 2015 MLB season. However, he's ready and able to close for the Tigers now.

The Tigers are made for the here and now as well.

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 19:  Miguel Cabrera #24 of the Detroit Tigers reacts after getting struck out by Clay Buchholz #11 of the Boston Red Sox in the third inning during Game Six of the American League Championship Series at Fenway Park on October 19, 2013

The best four pitchers for the Tigers are Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister and Anibal Sanchez, who will all be 30 years old or older next season. The team's lineup is then led by Victor Martinez, Torii Hunter, Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera, who will range from 30 to 35 years old next year.

There are very few young stars in Detroit, and signing a young closer simply wouldn't make sense.

Jon Paul Morosi then brought up three more points as to why Nathan will be a great fit in Detroit:

Nathan is familiar with the Tigers, having opposed them often during his seven seasons in Minnesota. If he chooses Detroit, it will be for the same reasons Torii Hunter — Nathan’s longtime Twins teammate — cited when he joined the Tigers almost exactly one year ago: Nathan, like Hunter, has made many All-Star and postseason appearances but wants to go where he’s never been: the World Series.

The Tigers aren’t averse to signing closers of advanced baseball age. Also under current club president/general manager Dave Dombrowski, they paid Todd Jones a total of $18 million to fill that role in his age 38, 39 and 40 seasons.

The Tigers would rather sign Nathan than face him; Nathan has a career 1.44 ERA against Detroit and more saves (36) than against any opponent other than the Kansas City Royals.

Morosi brings up a lot of good points, but he forgets one huge one: Nathan's success in Comerica Park.

Nathan has pitched in Detroit a total of 25 times in his career. He's had a lot of experience pitching in Detroit, and the park has favored him.

Joe Nathan Career Stats by Stadium
Comerica Park25191.520.93

As you can see from his numbers, Nathan has been terrific when pitching in Detroit. While some of that stems from his success against the Tigers as a team, there's no denying that he has the ability to pitch well in Detroit.

The Tigers and Nathan look like a match made in heaven.

The two sides seem destined for success, and Detroit may finally win the World Series it's been looking for if he is finishing games for them.