Folks: Nathan signed with another team. This happens all the time in free agency. It does not mean the Twins are cheap. It does not mean they didn't want to keep them. In fact, indications are that the Twins did make Nathan a similar offer to the one he accepted in Texas. A very telling tweet came last night from Twins President Dave St. Peter, who was mixing it up with some angry (and often irrational) fans. When one barked at him, "Really. The Twins couldn't match Texas' offer?" ... St. Peter replied, "Never given the chance." What that tells us, assuming St. Peter is to be believed (and there isn't a reason not to) is that Nathan made a decision on the open market that he would rather play for another team. At this point, it probably wasn't solely about money. It was about the chance to win -- Texas, you'll recall, was in the World Series each of the past two seasons -- and also quite possibly about leaving an uncertain -- and sometimes, in 2011, toxic -- situation in Minnesota. But blaming the Twins in this case -- aside, perhaps, from stretching to blame them for falling apart so badly last year that Nathan would want to leave -- is pretty foolish. Really, there's no blame for anyone. Just a decision.
That said, if the Twins were really going to offer $7 million a year over two years for Nathan, then perhaps Texas saved the Twins from themselves. Nathan is a good guy in the clubhouse and was a dominant closer from 2004-09. But he turned 37 today. Combine his age with his elbow surgery two years ago, and there's no guarantee what kind of performance that $7 million/year will bring, even if he looked much sharper toward the end of last year. And regardless, on a team with several holes -- many of them in the bullpen -- it probably makes more sense to push Glen Perkins into the big chair at far less money and use whatever would have been spent on Nathan to procure a few live young arms and rebuild the bullpen the right way.
Bottom line: Nathan will be missed. He had a tremendous run with the Twins. But rarely does a move make so much sense for all three parties -- player, former team and new team. This one fits that bill.