On November 21st of 2011 the Texas Rangers took a chance on a struggling closer with the signing of Joe Nathan. Over a year later GM Jon Daniels and the Texas Rangers are at it again. Early Tuesday afternoon former Kansas City Royals closer and all star Joakim Soria signed a two year contract worth eight million dollars. After a disappointing collapse to end the 2012 season the Rangers strike with a move to improve a maligned bullpen.
Last season, Joe Nathan got the bulk of the save opportunities with Texas as he converted 37 saves with an impressive 2.80 ERA. Furthermore, Nathan was a pleasant surprise after not pitching at all in 2010 and returning in 2011 with only 14 saves. Nathan and Soria are somewhat similar in their production at the MLB level.
Soria was signed as an amateur free agent in 2001 by the Los Angeles Dodgers but did not get his start until 2007 with the Royals. Since that season, Soria has had an ERA under 3.00 four times, including a season of 43 saves and an ERA of 1.78 in 2010. On a subpar team, Soria was able to save 160 games in only five seasons. The Rangers are picking up a reliever that is only two years removed from an all star season in which he was tenth in Cy Young voting.
Now, there is no such thing as “too much bullpen”, the Rangers are in an interesting position regarding who will be getting the nod to close games in Arlington. With two viable options, it may come down to whoever has a better spring training. In my mind, Texas skipper Ron Washington will stick with Nathan and put Soria in a set up role.
Nonetheless, the Rangers are much better with this move and undoubtedly pose a bigger threat to win the AL West in 2013.