Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 10/25/11
MINNEAPOLIS The Minnesota Twins declined to pick upcloser Joe Nathan's club option for 2012, the team announced Tuesday.Nathan had a club option for next season worth 12.5million. Instead of picking up his option, the Twins will pay Nathan a 2million buyout. That doesn't necessarily mean Nathan won't be with Minnesotanext year, however, as the Twins have said they'd like to have him back albeit for less money."I spoke with Joe and his agent this morning, and expressedour interest in re-signing Joe," Twins general manager Bill Smith said ina statement."We will remain in contact with them as we move forwardinto the free agent process."Nathan, too, has shown interest in remaining in Minnesota.He joined the Twins in 2005 in a trade from San Francisco, and becameMinnesota's all-time saves leader this season, surpassing Rick Aguilera. Nathanhas 261 career saves, with 260 of them coming in a Twins uniform.The 36-year-old Nathan underwent Tommy John surgery lastspring and missed the entire 2010 season. He experienced arm problems early inthe 2011 season and went on the disabled list in late May. After returning amonth later, Nathan seemed to settle in, showing that he can still be aneffective reliever. In the final 31 games of the season, he posted a 3.38 ERAwith 28 strikeouts in 29 13 innings. Opponents batted .193 against him afterJune 25, compared to a 7.63 ERA and .370 opposing batting average in his first17 games."That's what my ultimate goal was coming into theseason was just to get back to form and at least show this organizationand other clubs, if I'm not back here that I am back to form,"Nathan said in late September. "I'm as close now as I can be back to formwithout getting some rest. At this moment right now, I just feel good aboutwhere my pitches are, how consistent I've been, especially since coming backtoward the second half of June."Prior to the Twins' final game of the 2011 season, Nathanand other players with uncertain futures walked into the clubhouse not knowingwhether they'd be back in 2012. That list also includes outfielders MichaelCuddyer and Jason Kubel and reliever Matt Capps.It will be an offseason full of decisions for the Twins'front office, and a sentimental Nathan realized that."Even just walking in I was looking around and noticingthings that normally I don't really pay attention to and probably that I tookfor granted," Nathan said on Sept. 28, hours before the Twins won theirfinal game of the season against Kansas City. "It might be a littleemotional later on, but obviously some very good years here. You don't want itto end, but I also understand that this could be the last time I get a chanceto put on this uniform so I'm definitely not going to take tonight forgranted."
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