T. R. Sullivan of MLB.com first reported tonight that the Texas Rangers have agreed to a 2 year $14.5 million deal with Twins all-time saves leader Joe Nathan. About a month ago, the Twins declined their $12.5 2012 option on Nathan and hoped to re-sign him to a multi year contract for less money per year.
Nathan will head to Texas and most likely close, a move which will move Texas closer Neftali Feliz to the starting rotation. The move leaves a bit of uncertainty in the Twins bullpen. There is the option of moving set up man Glen Perkins to closer or the possiblity of bringing back former closer Matt Capps. Seth Stohs of SethSpeaks.net and the Twins Centric group raised the question of it the Twins should bring back Capps at a lower price (link).
There are plenty of closing options on the open market still, some of which include Heath Bell, Francisco Rodriguez, Jose Valverde, Kyle Farnsworth, Francisco Cordero, Brad Lidge and Jon Rauch. A few GMs have been quoted as saying they have been “shocked” by the money demands for closers this offseason.
Don’t look for the rebuilding Twins to get in a bidding war for any of these closers, they will now probably look to bring back Matt Capps and have either him or Perkins close.
This one is a tough loss for the Twins. A bullpen which was a major weak spot for the team last year just got a lot weaker. Nathan started out slow but managed to put up solid numbers after returning from the DL. He posted a 3.38 ERA with 11 saves, 28 strikeouts and 11 walks in 31 appearances (29 1/3 innings pitched) after returning in June.
The money saved by not resigning Nathan may be used to re sign either Michael Cuddyer or Jason Kubel. If you read my offseason blueprint a couple of weeks ago, you saw that I called for the Twins to let both Cuddyer and Kubel walk with the hopes that they would resign Nathan. Even though that money could be used to sign a couple of above average relievers, I wouldn’t be suprised if they used the money to bring back one of their two departing free agent outfielders.
The Twins have had a good offseason so far but this one is a big loss. Even though he will soon be 37 and is only a year removed from Tommy John Surgery, Nathan will be a great addition to the Rangers and will leave yet another hole for the Twins to fill. I would have loved to see Nathan finish his career in a Twins jersey, since that now will not happen I wish him all the best with Texas. Thanks for 8 great years in Minnesota Joe.