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Updated: October 25th, 2011 2:37pm
Twins decline Joe Nathan's 2012 option, but still hope to re-sign him

Twins decline Joe Nathan's 2012 option, but still hope to re-sign him

by Phil Mackey
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As expected, the Minnesota Twins have declined right-hander Joe Nathan's 2012 option the team announced in a release on Tuesday.

Nathan was set to earn $12.5 million in 2012 but will instead be paid a $2 million buyout.

"I spoke with Joe and his agent this morning, and expressed our interest in re-signing Joe," general manager Bill Smith said in a statement. "We will remain in contact with them as we move forward into the free agent process."

Based on his solid performance in the second half of the season, Nathan is likely to garner interest from other clubs. It's likely he will be in line for a two-year deal of some kind, perhaps worth at least $4-5 million a year, possibly more.

An MLB source indicated on Tuesday that Nathan's top priority is playing for a winning team in 2012,  which may work against a Twins team that finished 63-99 last season.

Phil Mackey is a columnist for He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
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In this story: Joe Nathan