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Giants sign Joe Nathan to minor league deal

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The 41-year-old threw some strong innings for the Cubs before getting caught in a roster crunch.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

You might not remember this, but back in 2003, the Giants made a little-known trade where they they gave up three young pitchers for a youngish catcher. This under-the-radar deal ended up helping the other team more, believe it or not, but it turns out they’ll get one of the pitchers back after all. Welcome back, Joe Nathan:

Nathan, 41, is a 16-year veteran in the majors, with 377 saves and a 2.88 career ERA. He’s thrown just 2⅓ innings since the end of 2014, needing a second Tommy John surgery after the most disappointing season of his career. So don’t keep those expectations too high. At the same time, he’s throwing just as hard as he was before he was hurt:

Nathan pitched for the Cubs this year, throwing two scoreless innings after a very brief stint in the minors, but he was designated for assignment because of a roster crunch. If he’s healthy and throwing 91 with something resembling his former slider, why not? His path to the majors isn’t especially clear, considering the Giants are going to need some roster gymnastics to fit Cory Gearrin onto the roster, but rosters are going to expand in two weeks, so it might be somewhat likely that he’ll pitch for the Giants again. Henry Schulman even suggests that the Giants won’t wait that long.

Nathan doesn’t throw as hard as he used to, of course:

But it’s still pretty spiffy that in 2016, the Giants are going to employ someone who pitched at Candlestick Park.

Also, we get to update the list of old friends the Giants have re-acquired in the last decade-plus:

  • Darren Ford
  • Jackson Williams
  • Jesse Foppert
  • Todd Linden
  • John Bowker
  • Russ Ortiz
  • Boof Bonser
  • Brad Penny
  • Eric Hacker
  • Andres Torres
  • Kevin Correia
  • Travis Blackley
  • Scott Munter
  • Ryan Vogelsong
  • Travis Ishikawa*
  • Kevin Frandsen
  • Nick Noonan
  • Mike Kickham
  • Conor Gillaspie
  • Travis Ishikawa again
  • Joe Nathan

* won pennant

Francisco Liriano in 2019? Sure. Pre-order the jersey, even. And as far as even-year fliers go, this is a pretty solid one. Welcome back, Joe Nathan! Bruce Bochy would pinch-run for a J.T. Snow-type runner in the postseason, promise.