Joe Nathan Is Apparently On The Trade Block

Per Ken Rosenthal, the Rangers have had “internal discussions” about trading its closer, Joe Nathan.

This news comes as a bit of a surprise given the recent acquisition of Matt Garza, who appeared on the surface to be a symbol that Texas was going for it in 2013.

But as the most famous Royals’ fan in the world, Rany Jazayerli, posits:


This is not a declaration of the Rangers waiving the white flag, but rather an endeavor to potentially exploit the market at its margins … the small crevices other contending teams may not be ballsy enough to travel through.

Check this out: the Rangers have one of the best bullpens in Major League Baseball.

FanGraphs agrees, as Texas’ pen is 3rd in MLB in FIP-wins (or fWAR) at +4.4. The collective ERA from the unit is 3.00, 4th in MLB. (For the record, the bullpen’s xFIP is 3.90 — almost a full run higher than the ERA — suggesting some luck has been involved. Of course, that’s also to take into consideration that relievers can generally get away with having higher xFIP’s than starters can, due to the sample, but that’s a topic for another day.)

What I’m trying to say is, the rest of baseball needs Joe Nathan more than the Rangers do. It’s still an elite bullpen he would be leaving behind.

Nathan is due roughly $2.5 million the rest of 2013, and has a $9 million option that he can opt out of if he finishes 16 more games this year.

I wouldn’t have any problems seeing him go and, furthermore, if the Rangers fall any further behind Oakland over the next three days I wouldn’t be completely disappointed to see Jon Daniels shop Matt Garza and a few others.

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  • primi_timpano

    I think Nathan is a great trade chip for prospects but I don’t see a contending team out there needing a closer that also has a spare impact bat.

    2014 looks like a better season to target. Cruz’s status is up in the air and his fielding is too unpredictable. Murphy may be gone, and even if he stays he is not much help.

    The Rangers may get more impact options with Kins, Elvis and Profar, but I would still go for younger players with control, and not rentals. This would mean crossing the fingers, playing the kids, and hope the pitching can keep the games winnable.

    Now that the Rangers have paid a premium price for Garza, I would try to lock him up. The Rangers have never had luck with FA pitchers so I would see what could be done in their exclusivity period.

    Last, trading for youth/prospects will restock the farm, giving the Rangers better off season options.

    This may be blowing up the team, but what team will we have without Murphy, Garza, AJP, Soto, and Profar playing out of position? And with Cruz facing a suspension for the rest of the season, this year may be a lost cause.

    • Eric Reining

      “Last, trading for youth/prospects will restock the farm, giving the Rangers better off season options.”

      This is what I would try to accomplish. I don’t care about getting a bat in return to help the 2013 club, because I just don’t think a closer is worth very much.

      But if JD can swing a trade for a mid-level prospect or two, I don’t know why he would hesitate. The core of this team is Darvish, Holland, Harrison, Beltre, Andrus, Kinsler, Profar, Martin …

      everyone else should be considered free game.

  • Rick M

    Internally is the key word. This is like putting someone on the waiver wire who is statistically up in lights. Teams do that all the time. No harm in checking on the market. Internally they probably have discussed a 100 scenarios. Teams do that. . .

    • Eric Reining

      Yes, but not every “internal discussion” becomes external news.