Joe Nathan Rumors
Closer Jonathan Papelbon is dissatisfied with the Phillies' current direction, MLB.com'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.
- The Tigers and Rangers have discussed the possibility of a deal that would send Joe Nathan to Detroit, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets. Right now, though, the Rangers are asking a lot, and Morosi says there is "no momentum toward a deal." As MLBTR's Aaron Steen noted yesterday, Joakim Soria could close for the Rangers if Nathan were to depart. The Rangers could target the Tigers' current setup man, Drew Smyly, if they were to deal Nathan, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports.
- The Tigers are not trying to trade for Papelbon, Morosi tweets, but Luke Gregerson of the Padres is a possibility (Twitter links).
- The Padres and Brewers are the top sellers for bullpen arms, CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler reports. The Padres can offer Gregerson and Joe Thatcher, while the Brewers have John Axford and Mike Gonzalez. The Astros, meanwhile, could deal Jose Veras or Wesley Wright, while the Angels could move Scott Downs.
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, FOXSportsArizona.com'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.
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 CBSSports.com 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 FOXSports.com 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.
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.
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."
Now that this year's arbitration offers are officially in, the free agent market has become that much easier to read. Jon Heyman of SI.com 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."
Closernews.com offers fantasy analysis of relievers all offseason long and we’ll also be keeping detailed tabs on the relief market here at MLBTR. Now for the latest hot stove notes regarding relievers...
- The Red Sox talked to Joe Nathan, but never made him an offer, according to Alex Speier of WEEI.com. Boston was uncomfortable offering the closer a multiyear deal partly because he's 37.
- The Rockies are trying to move Huston Street because they believe Rafael Betancourt can close for them, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post (Twitter links). Renck expects the Rockies to attempt to acquire a starter such as Jeremy Guthrie or Carl Pavano for Street.
- The bullpen remains the Rangers’ top priority, GM Jon Daniels told reporters, including Anthony Andro of FOXSportsSouthwest (Twitter link).
- The Red Sox, Angels, Twins, Reds, Marlins, Blue Jays and Mets are among the teams with potential interest in closers, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter).
The Rangers signed Joe Nathan to a two-year, $14.5MM deal and announced that they’re moving Neftali Feliz to the rotation last night. Here’s the latest from the AL West, starting with some notes from Texas...
- The Rangers, who haven’t ruled out pursuing starters even after moving Feliz to the rotation, have shown interest in Matt Garza in the past, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports explains (Twitter links). The Cubs are willing to move Garza, so the Rangers may inquire on the right-hander.
- Some in the Rangers organization were concerned about Feliz’s ability to recover from his blown save in Game 6 of the World Series, according to ESPN.com’s Buster Olney.
- Though Nathan's deal may seem generous, two agents had pegged the 37-year-old for a two-year deal in the $14-15MM range, according to Rosenthal.
- A’s GM Billy Beane accompanied owner Lew Wolff to meet commissioner Bud Selig and discuss the team’s stadium situation earlier in the month, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.
- The A's lost money for the first time this century, Beane told Slusser. Though they obtain tens of millions in revenue sharing each season, the A's are expected to lose several million dollars in 2011.
Angels GM Jerry Dipoto isn’t shying away from the free agent market in his first offseason on the job. Here’s the latest on the Angels from Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times:
- Dipoto and manager Mike Scioscia will meet with free agent left-hander C.J. Wilson tonight. Another GM will meet with Wilson in L.A. this weekend and the 31-year-old starter will meet with multiple teams on the East Coast next week, according to DiGiovanna.
- Angels international scouting director Mark Russo watched Yoenis Cespedes work out in the Dominican Republic last week, according to DiGiovanna. However, 60-70 other scouts were also in attendance to evaluate the Cuban center fielder. It appears that Cespedes will cost more than $35MM.
- The Angels are believed to be interested in free agent relievers Scott Linebrink and Ryan Madson, according to DiGiovanna. They also appeared to have interest in Joe Nathan, who just agreed to terms with the Rangers. This is the first time we've heard of the Angels' interest in Linebrink and Madson.
- Relievers Francisco Cordero, Heath Bell, Octavio Dotel and Matt Capps also interest the Angels, as do starters Mark Buehrle, Roy Oswalt and Hiroki Kuroda.
The Rangers' 2012 pitching staff just took shape and so did the rest of their offseason. The defending American League champions agreed with Joe Nathan on a two-year deal that includes a team option for 2014. Dave Pepe of Pro Agents, Inc. negotiated a $14.75MM guarantee for the four-time All-Star. Nathan will earn $7MM in 2012 and 2013 and the club holds a $9MM option for 2014 ($750K buyout). Nathan can earn up to $1MM in incentives based on games finished, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, and the 2014 option can vest based on games finished in '13.
The Rangers announced that Neftali Feliz is finally headed to Texas' rotation. After successfully converting C.J. Wilson and Alexi Ogando into starters, the Rangers will attempt to bolster their rotation with a converted reliever for a third consecutive spring. However, the Rangers aren't out on starters, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. There's less pressure for the Rangers to over-spend on Wilson or another free agent arm now that they have an established arm at the back of their bullpen and five starters in Feliz, Ogando, Colby Lewis, Derek Holland and Matt Harrison.
Nathan, who turns 37 tomorrow, missed the entire 2010 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. The Houston native posted a 4.84 ERA with 8.7 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 34.9% ground ball rate in 44 2/3 innings this past season, saving 14 games. His average fastball velocity dropped to 92.3 mph in 2011 after sitting in the 93-95 mph range from 2002-09.
Nathan, an unranked free agent, won't cost the Rangers a draft pick and his former team, the Twins, won't obtain a compensatory pick. The Twins declined a $12.5MM option for Nathan after the regular season, but maintained interest in their longtime closer.
T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com first reported the deal and added specifics. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, Jon Heyman of SI.com and Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram added detail. Photo courtesy Icon SMI.