One sticking point early on in discussions between the two sides was Nathan's '08 contract. The closer's $6 million option for the upcoming season had been picked up by the Twins, but Nathan's camp preferred to wipe the slate clean, which they eventually did.Antony, who negotiated the deal with Pepe, said the club felt that keeping Nathan was important for a few reasons. Among those was the fact that the team is entering 2008 with a very young rotation, and the Twins didn't want the team's confidence shaken by losing leads late in ballgames. The club also didn't want to mess with the current roles for other pitchers in its bullpen, which has been among the best in baseball in recent seasons. And there was a feeling that after watching other top-tier talent leave the organization, the Twins wanted to try and prevent that from happening with Nathan -- if he indeed wanted to stay. Pepe said it was made clear to him that his client wanted to remain a Twin. "That was unequivocal," Pepe said. "This is where he wants to be. My marching orders from him were 'I need a market deal and I want to stay with the Twins.'" While Santana expressed after signing his $137.5 million deal with the Mets that he felt an "obligation" to the market, Nathan made it clear this offseason that he didn't feel the same way. His new contract doesn't set a precedent, but it puts him in the same price range as other elite closers in the game. Nathan's contract is similar to the one the Reds gave free-agent closer Francisco Cordero this past offseason. Cordero signed a four-year, $46 million contract with a fifth-year option. That contract, along with Rivera's three-year, $45 million deal from the Yankees, is something Nathan said he felt already set a new bar for the closer's market. Last season, Nathan expressed his desire to wait and see at the direction the organization was headed before making a decision on his future. But Nathan said on Monday that he knew fairly quickly that he wanted to stay after watching the Twins acquire players such as Delmon Young and Brendan Harris and secure Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer to long-term deals this winter. "In the offseason, you definitely saw a commitment to winning," Nathan said of the team's moves. "So it was a situation where, as long as I felt they were committed to that, I wanted to be on board."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.