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.