The Texas Rangers wanted to keep closer Joe Nathan for another season. Unfortunately, the 38-year-old would prefer a two-year contract at this point in his career, which is something Texas simply will not do. There is no question the absence of Nathan in the bullpen could create some big problems for the Rangers next season.
It is never good to lose a key piece to the pitching staff in the offseason following a year in which the team just missed out on the playoffs. The fact is Nathan is a tremendous asset to the bullpen. He simply makes the team better and is someone the Rangers can count on. At this point, the organization has to be worried if they will be able to win enough games without his arm saving a majority of them.
Nathan’s 6-2 record, 1.39 earned run average, 73 strikeouts, 43 saves and 3.2 wins above replacement in 67 appearances are the some of the best numbers he has put up in years. It will be difficult for Texas to replace that production with just one player, especially if they intend on looking internally for a closer.
Neftali Feliz is the best bet to take over the duties only because he had the job before Nathan arrived in Arlington. The only problem is that he missed a majority of the 2013 season after he underwent Tommy John surgery in late 2012. It should be a non-issue now that he has recovered. In fact, he did not surrender a run in six appearances for Texas at the end of the season.
Obviously, it would have been great for Nathan to return for another year. His presence on the mound and in the clubhouse can be considered irreplaceable. With that being said, the Rangers have to hope certain relievers can step up next season.