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 MLB.com. 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.