If you're pining for Joe Nathan to sign that long term extension, and if you're a little obsessive about dates, today is your day. It was March 4th, 2004 when Nathan signed his first multi-year deal with the Twins, the same offseason he was traded.
That deal didn't last the full two years, because he signed his current contract one year later. In fact, exactly one year later, on March 4, 2005. That's also the day the Twins announced another multi-year deal with Juan Rincon.
And the Twins weren't finished there. They also waited until spring training to sign another of their relievers to a long-term extension in 2007. That was Jesse Crain, who they signed to a three-year deal, though it wasn't on March 4th. It was a week earlier, on the 27th of February.
Considering that both sides seem to want a deal, I'm a little surprised we haven't seen a deal get done. Three weeks ago, it sure seemed like we found some common ground:
"From Nathan’s standpoint, he has a choice. He can pitch for $6 million next year and then test the market. The closer market has exploded lately, including a $46 million, four-year contract to the 32-year-old Francisco Cordero. If Nathan pitches well this year, the 34-year-old can likely expect at least a three-year deal. That would probably come in around $40 million, which means he’ll make $46M over the next four years. Or he can take less money now, and have that money in hand, whether or not his arm falls off in 2008.
Does that leave the two sides enough common ground? Maybe. How about a deal that rips up the last year on his contract and gives Nathan a $6 million signing bonus, along with salaries over the next four years of $7M, $8M, $9M, and $10M. That brings the total to $40 million over the next four years.
That gives Nathan his big payday a year early at 85% of its value. It gives the Twins a premier closer attached to a very desirable contract that they can move if the team goes south. Nathan gives up $6M, but becomes wealthy beyond his dreams, and the Twins take on all the injury risk."
We can debate the particulars - for instance, maybe another million per year and only a $4M bonus - but I honestly can't figure out which side would be messing with a deal like that. Maybe Nathan wants a no-trade clause, or a fifth year. Or maybe the Twins want an option year, or want to make sure that Nathan's velocity improves again this spring, like it seemingly needs to do every spring.
Or maybe one of the sides isn't as serious as we might think. In which case, maybe this year March 4th will be known for yet one more contract extension to a reliever - for Pat Neshek.