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MLB notes: Tigers, Joe Nathan agree on deal, reports say

Joe Nathan had 43 saves last season for Texas.

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Joe Nathan had 43 saves last season for Texas.

Several media outlets reported Tuesday that the American League Central champion Detroit Tigers have signed veteran Joe Nathan, the closer they arguably needed in last season’s ALCS against the world champion Red Sox.

MLB Network and CBSSports.com reported that it is a two-year deal after FOXSports.com reported the sides were nearing an agreement. The Tigers had yet to confirm any agreement, which they often don’t do until free agents have passed physical exams.

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Torii Hunter, Nathan’s old teammate in Minnesota and a key recruiter in Detroit’s pursuit, was already welcoming Nathan’s arrival. “We needed him,” Hunter wrote in a text message to MLB.com. “I had to sell the vision of winning it all to him.”

The Tigers had promised Monday night they weren’t done dealing after freeing up money by dealing starter Doug Fister to the Nationals. By Tuesday they were dealing again, spending some of that money to fill their biggest need.

Nathan had 43 saves last season for Texas.

Hanigan to Rays

The Rays acquired catcher Ryan Hanigan from the Reds and reliever Heath Bell from the Diamondbacks in a three-team trade.

The deal was announced after Hanigan agreed to a $10.75 million, three-year contract that runs through 2016 an includes a club option for 2017.

Tampa Bay sent minor league pitcher Justin Choate and a player to be named to the Diamondbacks. Arizona dealt lefthander David Holmberg to Cincinnati.

The 33-year-old Hanigan is expected to become Tampa Bay’s primary catcher. The trade was completed a day after free agent catcher Jose Molina was re-signed to a $4.5 million, two-year contract.

Bell is a candidate to become the Rays’ closer.

Hanigan is a .262 career hitter who spent the past seven seasons with the Reds. He batted .198 with two homers and 21 RBIs in 75 games in 2013, when he spent two stints on the disabled list.

Bell, 36, has 168 career saves over 10 major league seasons with the Mets, Padres, Marlins, and Diamondbacks.

He led the majors with 132 saves for the Padres from 2009-11 and his 166 saves over the past five seasons are third in the majors.

Bell was 5-2 with a 4.11 ERA with 15 saves in 69 appearances for the Diamondbacks last season.

Astros get Fowler

The Astros acquired outfielder Dexter Fowler from the Rockies for outfielder Brandon Barnes and righthander Jordan Lyles. Houston also will receive a player to be named in the deal. The 27-year-old Fowler hit .263 with 18 doubles, 42 RBIs, and 19 stolen bases in 119 games last season. Fowler, a switch-hitter who primarily plays center field, hit .300 in 2012. Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow said a goal was: ‘‘to bring in an outfielder who can spark our offense.’’ . . . In one whirlwind stretch of less than 24 hours, Billy Beane pulled off a trio of trades with three different clubs — and the Oakland general manager believes his bullpen will be all the better for it heading into 2014. First, the Athletics acquired AL saves leader Jim Johnson from Baltimore late Monday as the replacement for All-Star closer Grant Balfour. Tuesday, the two-time defending AL West champions traded for San Diego righthanded reliever Luke Gregerson in a swap that sent outfielder Seth Smith to the Padres. That move became a viable option after outfielder Craig Gentry was acquired from Texas earlier with outfielder Michael Choice going to the division rival Rangers.

Mariners in on Cano?

The Mariners have emerged as major players in the sweepstakes for free agent Robinson Cano, according to several sources who spoke to ESPNNewYork.com on the condition of anonymity. With the Yankees not wanting to offer Cano more than a seven-year contract or as much as $200 million, an industry source with knowledge of the negotiations put the Yankees’ chances of retaining the five-time All-Star second baseman at “less than 50-50.

Clark in place

Tony Clark said he’s ‘‘blown away’’ that he is the first former major leaguer to become head of the baseball players’ union. The executive board of the Major League Baseball Players Association voted unanimously Tuesday to appoint Clark to replace Michael Weiner, who died Nov. 22 of brain cancer. The decision is pending a vote of the general membership. Clark was an All-Star in 2001 and played for 15 seasons with the Tigers, Diamondbacks, Mets Yankees, Red Sox, and Padres. The 41-year-old was appointed deputy executive director in July and had been acting executive director since Weiner’s death . . . Utilityman Kevin Frandsen and the Phillies agreed to a one-year, $900,000 contract late Monday night, avoiding arbitration . . . Players not offered contracts late Monday night, becoming free agents, included pitchers Jerome Williams and Tommy Hanson of the Angels, reliever John Axford of the Cardinals, and Chris Coghlan, the 2009 NL Rookie of the Year, of the Marlins . . . The Cubs hired Eric Hinske as their first base coach . . . The Mariners hired former catcher Dan Wilson as the roving minor league catching coordinator . . . The Giants said five of their minor league players were treated for minor injuries after a traffic collision in Scottsdale, Ariz.

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