The Rangers signed reliever Joe Nathan to a two-year $14.5 million deal and introduced him to the media and fans Tuesday. The deal may sound like a lot for a guy who struggled last season, but the Rangers are hoping he can be the All-Star level closer he was from 2004-2009 before getting hurt. The signing also has a ripple effect for the organization.
By adding Nathan, the Rangers can now shift young fireballer Neftali Feliz to the rotation. Feliz started 54 games out of his 80 minor league appearances. He has been a reliever the past two and a half years for Texas, and he was the AL Rookie of the Year and an All-Star last season.
Joe Nathan for $7 million a season is a much more cost-effective solution for Texas’ pitching staff than retaining C.J. Wilson. Wilson, who has been the staff ace the past two years, is a free agent and seeking a long-term deal that will pay him big money. He’s met with the Angels, and he’s scheduled to meet with the Marlins. If his price ends up around $70 million or more, he would likely be too pricey for the Rangers to retain.
Texas now has Feliz, Alexei Ogando, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland, and Colby Lewis in the rotation (with Scott Feldman as another option). GM Jon Daniels says they plan to stick with those pitchers in their rotation. If Feliz’s transition to the rotation goes as smoothly as Wilson’s did, Texas’ pitching should not suffer a dropoff.
Related: Colin at The Sports Spin explains why Feliz’s transition to the rotation might not go as well as we think.