According to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan, the Rangers picked up their $9MM option on Joe Nathan, but the All-Star closer exercised his right to void the option and become a free agent.
Nathan may be turning 39 years old in three weeks, but he definitely isn't showing his age. The active Major League leader in saves (once Mariano Rivera's retirement paperwork is officially filed), Nathan compiled a microscopic 1.39 ERA with 10.2 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 64 2/3 innings, adding another 43 saves to his outstanding resume.
Going by his 297 ERA+, 2013 was the best season of Nathan's historic career. SInce taking over as the Twins closer in 2004 at age 29, Nathan has a 2.14 ERA with a brilliant 4.21 K/BB ratio in 592 1/3 innings and 341 saves. He earned $7MM this season in the second season of a two-year, $14.75MM contract that he signed with the Rangers prior to the 2012 season, though he will forfeit $750K of that guarantee, as he won't be paid the buyout on his option.
Nathan will headline a stacked class of relievers that got even stronger today when the Tigers surprisingly declined their $3.25MM option on Jose Veras. In addition to Nathan and Veras, Fernando Rodney, Grant Balfour, Joaquin Benoit, Edward Mujica and Chris Perez are all available on the free agent market. In his free agent profile of Nathan, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicted a two-year, $26MM contract, noting that win-now teams like the Tigers and Yankees should be interested in Nathan this winter.