Former Tigers' closer Joe Nathan signs with Cubs

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Joe Nathan

Joe Nathan's career might not end as a Tiger, after all.

The Chicago Cubs announced Tuesday afternoon that they've signed the veteran closer, who is coming off his second Tommy John surgery, which he had in April 2015.

Nathan figures to get a heavily performance-based contract, with a prorated major-league minimum — just over $500,000 — as his base pay.

The deal is seen as low-risk, high-reward for the Cubs, a favorite to win the World Series this fall.

Nathan, 41, could be ready to pitch by June or July.

The right-hander played a little over one full season with the Tigers, and it was a rough one, 2014, when he had a 4.81 ERA and 1.53 WHIP while saving 35 games, but blowing seven.

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He also made headlines when he chin-flicked the fans at Comerica Park after recording a save in 2014. He apologized for the incident, but many Tigers fans never forgot.

On Opening Day in 2015, he recorded a save, striking out Torii Hunter, the only batter he faced, while suffering the elbow injury.

Nathan hasn't pitched since April 6, 2015, after agreeing to a two-year, $20-million contract with the Tigers in December 2013.

His brief Detroit tenure was among the roughest points in his otherwise impressive major-league career, spent mostly with the Minnesota Twins. He's a six-time All-Star, including twice with the Texas Rangers, for whom he pitched before he signed with the Tigers.

He's saved 377 games for his 15-year career, good for eighth all-time, while striking out more than a batter an inning (967 in 917 innings).

Nathan also sat out the 2010 season recovering from his first Tommy John surgery.

Twitter: @tonypaul1984