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Minnesota Twins Decline Joe Nathan Contract Option For 2012 Season

Joe Nathan is a free agent after the Minnesota Twins declined the closer's contract option for the 2012 season.

Joe Nathan has been a pretty important part of the Minnesota Twins roster since moving to Minneapolis in a trade with the San Francisco Giants in 2003. As of Tuesday, however, the Twins no longer employ the closer after declining his 2012 contract option by buying out the remainder of his deal.

Nathan would have been owed $12.5 million under his current deal if the Twins had enacted their option for the upcoming season. Instead, though, they elected to buy him out for $2 million, allowing the 36-year-old to become a free agent.

"I spoke with Joe and his agent this morning, and expressed our interest in re-signing [him]," general manager Bill Smith said in a statement on the team's website. "We will remain in contact with them as we move forward into the free-agent process."

Nathan allowed the highest ERA during his Twins' career last season, but part of that may be related to his missing all of 2010 due to Tommy John's surgery.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.