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Nathan reportedly near new deal

Nathan reportedly near new deal

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JUPITER, Fla. -- Closer Joe Nathan said earlier this week he was optimistic he'll sign a contract extension with the Twins.

On Saturday, the indication from those with knowledge of the talks is that a deal is getting closer to completion.

One report went even further. ESPN's Buster Olney reported on his blog that Nathan's deal is "all but done." Olney said that according to a highly placed source, the contract will be for "four years for between $11 million and $12 million a year."

Nathan's agent, Dave Pepe, could not be reached for comment.

Pepe arrived in Fort Myers, Fla., on Tuesday and met with Twins general manager Bill Smith and assistant general manager Rob Antony for an extensive period Thursday. The feeling after the talks was that the two sides were closer than originally thought.

The two sides did not meet face to face on Friday, as Pepe traveled to other areas of Florida to visit other clients. Pepe was expected to be back in Fort Myers on Saturday and will remain there until Monday.

It's unclear if the two sides had conversations Saturday. Both Smith and Antony were on the trip with the Twins to Jupiter. Nathan, who is set to make $6 million in 2008, did not make the trip.

After hearing word of the report after Saturday's loss to the Cardinals, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he hopes it is indeed true.

"That's what we've been hoping for in the clubhouse for a long time," Gardenhire said of keeping his closer in a Twins uniform. "We want him here. Your bullpen is only as good as the guy at the end, and we've said that all along. I hope that's the case and we will get something done."

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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