When the Minnesota Twins acquired Joe Nathan prior to the 2004 season, he was simply one of the three guys that the team received in exchange for A.J. Pierzynski. Six seasons later, Nathan is now the guy that is well on track to break the team’s all-time saves record.
Thus far in 2009, Nathan has taken the mound and closed out 42 games for the Twins. The total places him second in all of baseball behind only Brian Fuentes (43) and in front of future Hall of Fame closer, Mariano Rivera.
Since Nathan joined the club in 2004, he has collected at least 36 saves each year, and saved a career high 44 games in his first season with the club. With 13 games remaining, Nathan had collected 42 saves over the course of the 2009 season, his third best season of his career.
With six solid seasons under his belt, Nathan has quickly moved up the franchise’s all-time saves board and currently stands in second place behind only Rick Aguilera with 241 saves as a Minnesota Twin.
With a 4-year, $47 million deal signed last March, Nathan is under the team’s control through the 2012 season, three more years. The team’s all-time saves leader, Aguilera, ended his Twins career with 254 saves in 11 seasons. While he played for the team for 11 seasons, Aguilera was the full time closer for only 8 of those years.
Nathan is now only 13 saves away from tying the record, and he should tie and then pass the mark early next season. If the All-Star closer averages 36 saves over his next three seasons with Minnesota, his lowest total to date in Minneapolis, he’ll be right near 350 saves when his extension runs out.
Not many knew what the Twins were receiving when they traded their starting catcher six season ago, but now they have one of the best closers in baseball, one who has made three All-Star Game appearances, and one who should soon be the best closer in team history.