Reports out of Texas are saying that Joe Nathan has signed on with the Texas Rangers. The deal is said to be for two years at $7 million with an option for a third year. The Rangers are also said to be moving Neftali Feliz from his closer’s role to the starting rotation.
After missing the entire 2010 season with Tommy John surgery, Nathan came back and reclaimed his closer’s role in April. It didn’t take too long for him to give it back to Matt Capps. After a DL stint, Nathan returned and pitched quite well, especially late in the season.
In the TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook, we predicted two years and $14 million for Nathan… Not too shabby.
Nathan joined the Twins at about this time in 2003. The Twins sent AJ Pierzynski to the Giants in exchange for Nathan, Francisco Liriano and Boof Bonser. He had one career save before coming to the Twins, and eight years and 260 saves later, he is the Twins all-time Saves leader, having surpassed Rick Aguilera just this past season.
I know there are people who can’t get past the Mark Teixeira homer in the playoffs… or a couple of other playoff blunders. I think it’s important to remember that from 2004 through 2009, Joe Nathan was, at worst, the second-best closer in all of baseball. In those six seasons, he posted an ERA higher than 2.10 just one time (2.96). He never posted a WHIP of greater than 1.06. He didn’t give up many hits. He didn’t walk many, and he averaged 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings.
As Twins President Dave St. Peter tweeted, “Joe and Lisa Nathan = Class Acts. Many contributions on the field and in the community. THX for 8 great years with Twins. Best of luck in Texas.”
Joe Nathan is one of the best Twins players in their history, and he has represented the organization and the community very well. At the same time, Nathan turns 37 on Tuesday, so as much as he appeared to return to form late last year, it’s hard to know what he will do over the next two seasons. So it’s easy to understand why the Twins would have been hesitant to sign him to this reasonable contract. Nathan said that “winning” was going to be a huge factor in where he would sign. I’d say he stayed true to that by signing with the Rangers.