The Texas Rangers have signed former Twins closer Joe Nathan, the team announced Monday night. Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports the deal is for two years and $14.5 million with a club option for 2014.
The plan all along was to move Neftali Feliz into the starting rotation, and this signing only reinforces those plans -- with Mike Adams and Joe Nathan now forming the back-end of the Texas bullpen. Feliz has been told he's moving to the rotation.
“Jon Daniels and Ron Washington called me a couple of days ago and told me about the team’s decision for me to be a starting pitcher next season," Feliz said in a statement. "I was a starter for my whole career before I came to the major leagues. I am happy to know the team’s decision this early, and I have plenty of time to get ready. I have already started running."
Nathan was one of baseball's premier closers from 2004-09. He was a four-time All-Star who twice finished in the top five of Cy Young voting. His average season in that stretch was 41 saves with a 1.87 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 86 strikeouts in 70 innings. That would be a career year for many, many pitchers, but that was the average season for Nathan.
If your favorite team is still in need of a closer, don't fret. Heath Bell, Ryan Madson, Francisco Cordero and Francisco Rodriguez are still free agents along with cheaper options like Jonathan Broxton, Matt Capps and Brad Lidge. Plus, Huston Street and Andrew Bailey appear to be available via trade.
Finally, with Feliz's official move to the rotation, the odds of the Rangers letting free agent starter C.J. Wilson walk increase. Feliz will likely join the foursome of Colby Lewis, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison and either Alexi Ogando or Scott Feldman. If the Rangers do choose to re-up with Wilson, both Ogando and Feldman could pitch out of the bullpen.
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