15 worst Detroit Tigers free agent signings in franchise history

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3. Joe Nathan, 2014-15

  • 2 years, $20 million
  • -0.3 WAR
  • 4.78 ERA

What is more memorable about Joe Nathan’s time in Detroit? The great disappointment he became after joining the club to shore up a perennially shaky bullpen, or the chin flick heard ‘round Tigertown? At least you can laugh about the latter choice. Maybe.

Rather than the bullpen savior, he blew seven saves and put up an ERA of 4.81 in 2014. His strikeouts per nine innings dropped. His walks per nine increased by 50%. 

The frustration for both sides peaked on Aug. 14, 2014, when he threatened to blow an 8-4 lead to the Pirates. Fans enthusiastically booed. Nathan replied with a chin flick, which is roughly Italian for something we can’t print on this site. The relationship was never really fixed despite a later apology. 

In 2015, he made exactly one appearance, picking up a save on Opening Day. A torn UCL that game ended his season and Tigers career. Whether he would have rehabilitated his reputation by staying healthy that year will never be known.