A search for a Minnesota Twins closer can officially begin.
Twins closer Joe Nathan played catch with pitching coach Rick Anderson on Sunday morning, and it did not go well enough for Nathan to try to pitch this season through pain after tearing a ligament in his elbow earlier this month.
Nathan will undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the rest of the season.
My guess is that the Twins will have a hard time making a deal before the season opens, in the event that they choose to trade for a closer. And I have a "Heath Bell or bust" mentality when it comes to making a deal, but it doesn’t sound like he’s going anywhere. If it’s not a bona fide reliable closer, I wouldn’t make a trade that would gut the farm system.
I like Toronto’s Jason Frasor, but I don’t know what the asking price would be. Chances are, it would be too high for my taste. Frasor had great numbers last year, but he’s still someone who’s registered just 15 saves total in the last five seasons.
So I bet the Twins end up staying in-house at least until the midseason trade deadline, as they so often do when matters like this come up.
Jon Rauch is probably the favorite at this point, though I wouldn’t rule out Matt Guerrier or Jose Mijares. There’s no doubt if Pat Neshek opens the season strong that he could wrest the job from one of these guys. Same goes for Francisco Liriano, assuming he didn’t open the season on the rotation. But the Twins would be crazy to just hand the job to Neshek or Liriano for Opening Day.