Joe Nathan Rumors

Quick Hits: Rangers, A’s, Jeter, Nationals, Phillies

In an attempt to compensate for the looming loss of Nelson Cruz to his 50-game suspension, the Rangers tried to swing a big trade for Justin Upton at the July trade deadline, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports. The Braves refused a package of Matt Garza, Joe Nathan and David Murphy. If those are the only three players the Rangers offered, it's not a surprise that the Braves passed — Garza and Murphy are eligible for free agency after the season, while Upton is a good young player who is under contract through 2015. Eventually, of course, the Rangers acquired Alex Rios in August. Here are more notes from around the Majors.

  • The Athletics clinched their second AL West title in a row with an 11-7 win over the Twins on Sunday, and GM Billy Beane says the team's depth has been the key to their smooth season, John Hickey of reports. "We knew going in this was the deepest roster we’d ever had here," says Beane. "We needed that depth, and it paid for itself." As Hickey points out, the Athletics hardly missed a beat all season, even though Brett Anderson, Josh Reddick, John Jaso and Derek Norris all missed significant time. Here are more notes from around the Majors. A quietly brilliant season from Josh Donaldson surely helped, but the A's got solid offensive and defensive performances from most of their hitters, and other than Anderson, their starting rotation mostly stayed healthy.
  • After taking in the ceremony for Mariano Rivera and the applause for Andy Pettitte on Sunday, it dawned on injured Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter that he had played his final game with his two retiring teammates, Andy McCullough of the Star Ledger reports. "I’m going to miss them a lot," says Jeter. "These guys have been brothers to me. We’ve been through quite a bit together. Pretty much everything you can experience on a field. In my whole professional career, I’ve been playing with at least one of them." The three had their rookie seasons together with the 1995 Yankees, and Jeter and Pettitte also played on many of the same minor-league teams, including Class A Greensboro in 1992 and and Triple-A Columbus in 1994 and 1995.
  • Pitcher Dan Haren thinks the Nationals should aim to keep their team together, writes's Andrew Simon. "Last year they had a great year and this year we’ve shown a lot of fight here the last few months. I think as close as things could stay to the guys in this room, I think the better," Haren says. He also appears to support bench coach Randy Knorr for the Nationals' managerial position, which will be open when Davey Johnson retires after the season. Haren himself is a free agent, of course, and he seems aware that he might not be part of the 2014 Nationals, even if they ultimately go with a similar roster: "I know there’ll be some subtle changes, me probably being one of them."
  • Now that the Phillies have settled on Ryne Sandberg as their manager, they'll now turn their attention to their coaching staff,'s Todd Zolecki reports. With a new manager, it's typical to have at least some change in the rest of the coaching staff. Zolecki mentions that one potential change might be re-hiring former manager Larry Bowa in some capacity.
  • A "winter of discontent" is on the way for Phillies fans, writes Bob Ford of the Inquirer. After a recent streak of successful seasons, Ford says, a team elsewhere might "get a standing ovation and then be allowed to attempt its rebuilding with patient if not fervent support. That might be the case here as well, if only the team would get on with the rebuilding." Instead, the Phils will head into the offseason expecting to keep aging veterans Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Cliff Lee. They might also go into 2014 with Carlos Ruiz still at catcher, and perhaps also with Roy Halladay in the rotation. Ford compares the Phillies to a rock band who are still touring long past the point where they've lost relevance, "dyeing their hair and wearing hearing aids."

Joe Nathan Can Void 2014 Club Option; Seeks Multi-Year Deal

After finishing his 55th game of the season, Rangers closer Joe Nathan is now entitled to void the $9.5MM option that Texas would otherwise hold for 2014, reports T.R. Sullivan of If Nathan elects to exercise the contract provision, he will sacrifice the right to a $750k buyout and become a free agent. Nathan is represented by Dave Pepe of Pro Agents, Inc.

Though he is now capable of taking bids on the open market, Nathan says that he hopes to stay in Arlington for the foreseeable future. "The only reason to have that incentive in play is to have a little bit of power in getting a multiyear deal," Nathan explained. "Other than that, I'm just glad to get to that point and have it over and done with." 

The 38-year-old has been stellar during his time in Texas. After posting 37 saves in 2012, Nathan has picked up 39 more this year and carries a 1.53 ERA over 58 2/3 innings. Though he has failed to repeat the incredible 6.00 K:BB ratio he posted last year, Nathan is still working at a 3.10 K:BB clip, fanning ten batters per nine innings, and holding opposing hitters to a .168 average.

Rangers assistant GM Thad Levine declined to discuss Nathan's future. He said that the club has "not had any discussions on our class of free agents," while noting that "Joe is prominent among them." Though the contending Rangers surely want a solid late-inning option for 2014, the team does have two other established closing options under contract in Joakim Soria and Neftali Feliz

AL East Notes: Lyon, Hughes, Yankees, Red Sox

As Tim Britton of the Providence Journal writes, it's been 10 years since the strangest week of Brandon Lyon's life. In 2003, the then-23-year-old Lyon was dealt by the Red Sox to the Pirates as part of a pacakage for lefty Scott Sauerbeck. The Pirates decided they weren't comfortable with the state of Lyon's elbow and sent him back to the Red Sox in a trade centering around Freddy Sanchez and Jeff Suppan just nine days later. Now with the Red Sox once again, Lyon tells Britton that he hopes to be with the big league club in the near future. Here's more on the AL East…

  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that as of Sunday, the Yankees had yet to receive a single trade offer for struggling right-hander Phil Hughes. That's fairly surprising, given Hughes' solid production away from Yankee Stadium (3.02 ERA in 53 2/3 innings compared to 6.02 in 58 1/3 innings at home).
  • Yankees GM Brian Cashman feels that there may be more offense on its way to New York via the trade market before Wednesday's deadline, writes's Bryan Hoch.
  • The Red Sox are no longer in the mix for Joe Nathan, according to Rob Bradford of, but they're still prioritizing right-handed relief help. The Red Sox remain in contact with the Phillies about Michael Young but find the asking price for Cliff Lee too high, according to Bradford. The same goes for Jake Peavy of the White Sox.
  • Alex Speier of takes a look at how the Red Sox stack up in terms of starting pitching, right-handed relief and third base options.

Rangers Not Planning More Significant Moves

Four straight losses have dropped the Rangers to 1.5 games out in the wild card.  Here's the latest:

  • The Rangers aren't planning on making any major moves prior to the deadline, writes Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. General manager Jon Daniels doesn't think his team will acquire a significant right-handed bat, nor does he plan on trading Joe Nathan. Daniels told Wilson that the idea of trading Nathan never gained much traction: "We'll talk about anything," Daniels said. "That's our jobs, but talking about something and having it happen are very different things." Wilson adds that the Rangers haven't had any serious talks about Alex Rios, Hunter Pence or Kendrys Morales recently, and they were never that big on the idea of re-acquiring Michael Young or Marlon Byrd.

Earlier Updates

  • The Rangers are strongly considering standing pat, writes Yahoo's Jeff Passan.
  • Manny Ramirez doesn't have an opt-out in his minor league deal with the Rangers, writes Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, but the team "never intended to keep him dangling."  They haven't yet decided whether they'll keep Manny in the organization, though they aren't expected to promote him.  The 41-year-old is hitting .269/.347/.418 in 75 Triple-A plate appearances.
  • "I've never had to worry about this stuff before and I'm not going to start now," closer Joe Nathan told Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News regarding his rumored availability.  It's hard to picture which contender could offer a quality bat for a closer, anyway.  

Bullpen Notes: Papelbon, Nathan, Tigers, Padres

Closer Jonathan Papelbon is dissatisfied with the Phillies' current direction,'s Todd Zalecki reports. In the midst of an eight-game losing streak, Philadelphia has fallen to seven games below .500, and that's not what Papelbon anticipated when he signed with the Phils. "I definitely didn't come here for this," he says. He also doesn't sound optimistic when asked about the Phillies' future. "Oh man," he says. "We could be here all day."

Papelbon is of the opinion that the Phillies need to undergo an overhaul, similar to that of his former team, the Red Sox (whose overhaul, ironically, included losing Papelbon to free agency). He says he does not want to be traded, but adds that he does not want to stay in Philadelphia if his team continues on the same path.

West Notes: Angels, Nathan, Diamondbacks, Wilson

The Angels are "open for business," Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan tweets. That means deals for Erick Aybar, Howie Kendrick and others could be on the table. It remains to be seen what the Angels might be able to do with less than three days before the deadline, but Kendrick would be a particularly attractive trade candidate — his consistently high batting averages and solid defense make him a dependably productive player, and he's under contract through 2015 at a reasonable cost, making a bit over $9MM both in 2014 and 2015. Aybar isn't having as good a year as Kendrick, but he might make an interesting buy-low candidate. If the Angels are open to selling other players, reliever Scott Downs, who becomes a free agent after this season, would also be an obvious possibility, as CBS Sports' Jon Heyman suggested yesterday. Here are more notes from the West divisions.

  • With a 13-game deficit in the AL West and with Albert Pujols on the disabled list, however, the Angels have "nothing to sell," ESPN's Jim Bowden says (Insider-only). Several of their top players, like Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo, aren't candidates to be dealt, and much of the rest of their roster has been disappointing, which is why they're 13 games back to begin with. That leaves a handful of relievers as the Angels' only viable trade pieces.
  • If the Rangers want to trade Joe Nathan, the Dodgers are the only suitor that makes much sense, Bowden writes (Twitter links). Boston or Detroit could be possible destinations, but Bowden guesses that the Rangers won't relish the possibility of dealing Nathan to the Red Sox or Tigers and then having to face him in the playoffs. Instead, they could send him to L.A., possibly in a deal involving Andre Ethier.
  • The Diamondbacks are looking for a second bullpen lefty,'s Jack Magruder tweets.
  • Five teams, four of them from the National League, are interested in former Giants closer Brian Wilson, who's returning from Tommy John surgery, tweets Yahoo! Sports' Tim Brown.

Rangers Have Considered Dealing Joe Nathan

SUNDAY: ESPN's Buster Olney tweets the Rangers are having more than internal talks and are shopping Nathan for an established hitter. Danny Knobler of writes Nathan would have great value on the trade market, but most teams that would want him wouldn't be in position to part with the type of hitter the Rangers need.  

SATURDAY: The Rangers have had internal conversations about trading closer Joe Nathan, Ken Rosenthal of reports, citing major league sources who say such a move would be aimed at taking advantage of the Rangers' deep bullpen and this year's thin relief pitching market. Nathan would immediately become the top closer on offer if the Rangers decide to shop him, Rosenthal says, placing him ahead of the Phillies' Jonathan Papelbon, who may not even be traded.

The move would open new trade possibilities for the Rangers, who have been frustrated in their attempts to acquire pieces to bolster their lineup, which ranks ninth in the AL in runs per game. After dropping 11 of their last 14 games, Texas' situation has grown more urgent, Rosenthal observes. He names the Tigers, Red Sox and Dodgers as teams known to be in the market for late-inning bullpen pieces.

Former Royals closer Joakim Soria could step into the same role for Texas, according to Rosenthal's sources, and Texas pitcher Neftali Feliz, a former closer in his own right, is also expected to return from Tommy John surgery in about a month's time. In addition, Alexi Ogando, who's currently in the rotation, could slide into a late-inning role for Texas after starter Matt Harrison returns from the DL, so the back end of the Texas bullpen could remain a strength even if they do decide to trade Nathan.

Nathan, 38, has a sparkling 1.73 ERA this year in 41 2/3 innings, posting a 9.5 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9. His contract has him earning about $2.5MM on the remainder of the season and also includes a $9MM club option for next year, though Nathan can choose to void the option and become a free agent if he finishes 55 games. He has already finished 39 games this year.

Edward Creech contributed to this post.

AL West Notes: Nathan, Profar, Greinke, A’s

No team in the American League has a better record than the Rangers (80-55) or the Athletics (76-59, tied with Baltimore and New York). Here's the latest from MLB's only four-team division…

  • Rangers closer Joe Nathan obtained a $300K bonus when he finished his 50th game of the season Monday, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports. Nathan will earn $300K if he reaches 55 games finished and the same amount for completing 60 games. 
  • The Rangers signed Curacao native Juremi Profar, Ben Badler of Baseball America reports. The 16-year-old third baseman is the younger brother of Jurickson Profar, who debuted with the Rangers over the weekend. The younger Profar has the tools to play third base and has shown some power from the right side, Badler writes.
  • Angels right-hander Zack Greinke told Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times that he intends to wait until the offseason before talking too much about his next contract (Twitter link). “But I like it here,” Greinke said. “It's a great city, a great team." He is set to hit free agency after the season.
  • The city of San Jose is toughening its stance toward those who oppose the possibility of the Athletics moving from Oakland, John Woolfolk of the San Jose Mercury News reports. The Giants have reason to oppose the possibility of the A’s moving to nearby San Jose and MLB has been slow to deliver a decision on the matter.

Antony On Cuddyer, Kubel, Young, Nathan, Span

Twins assistant GM Rob Antony discussed the team's offseason moves, players who signed elsewhere over the winter, plans for 2012, and more in an interview with Jesse Lund of the Twinkie Town blog.  Here are some of the highlights…

  • Michael Cuddyer was the Twins' "number one priority all off-season" but moved on once it became clear that the team wouldn't be able to re-sign him.  Antony "always believed he wanted to be a Twin for his entire career" and thinks Cuddyer was "disappointed" to ultimately leave the team for Colorado.
  • Jason Kubel shared his concerns with Antony about how Target Field is a tough stadium for power hitters, and the assistant GM believes this was a factor in Kubel leaving the team.
  • The Twins dealt Delmon Young to the Tigers last season simply because the team put a priority on re-signing Cuddyer and Kubel, so they wanted to get some return for Young rather than possibly non-tender him after the season.
  • Joe Nathan didn't give the Twins a chance to match the $14.75MM contract he received from the Rangers.  Antony said there were no hard feelings about Nathan leaving, since the veteran closer was focused on playing for a contender.  We heard in November that Minnesota's best offer to Nathan was "a bit less" than Texas' offer.
  • The Nationals were "definitely interested" in Denard Span at the trade deadline last summer, but Antony doesn't "think we were ever close to doing anything."
  • Antony said that some internet rumors about players on the trade market often lead to exploratory conversations between GMs about said players.  "There are a lot of names that pop up where we do a lot of that same thing. 'Look, if you're looking to move this guy, he could be a fit over here. I don’t know what’s fact and what’s rumor, but if you are serious in trading a player we’d like to be kept in mind, we have some interest,' " Antony said.  He brought up this point in regards to a question about Martin Prado, which would seem to hint that the Twins and Braves perhaps had such a conversation about the utilityman.
  • Antony thinks Tsuyoshi Nishioka will give Alexi Casilla a strong battle for the starting second base job and that Nishioka "deserves a mulligan" for his tough 2011 season.  Nishioka suffered a broken leg in his first season in the Major Leagues.
  • "We have had more meetings with our training and medical staff this season than in the ten years prior to," Antony said in regards to how the Twins responded to last year's injury-riddled season.  Still, Antony doesn't lay blame on the training staff: "These are the guys who were in place the year before, and the year before, and the year before that, so it’s not like all of a sudden they don’t know how to do their job. And last year, it was a perfect storm of everything that could do wrong, did go wrong."

Heyman On Ortiz, Rodriguez, Nathan

Now that this year's arbitration offers are officially in, the free agent market has become that much easier to read. Jon Heyman of examines some of last night’s decisions and provides more notes from around the league (all Twitter links): 

  • One agent predicts David Ortiz could get $16MM if he accepts Boston’s offer of arbitration. Heyman suggests a two-year deal in the $25-28MM range could also work for both sides.
  • Though the Brewers took on some risk by offering Francisco Rodriguez arbitration, the right-hander seeks a multiyear deal and a closing job, so he’ll decline Milwaukee’s offer. The Brewers already have John Axford in place, so for Rodriguez to close games he’ll have to move on.
  • The Twins offered Joe Nathan a two-year deal that would have guaranteed him a bit less than the $14.75MM contract he signed in Texas. However, one AL executive told Heyman that Nathan "wanted to go to Texas."