Rangers closer Joe Nathan will seek a two-year contract

Posted Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Nolan Ryan is leaving the Texas Rangers at the end of the month, and there are questions about how that departure will affect the team’s ability to attract free agents.

Joe Nathan cited Ryan as one of his reasons for signing with the Rangers two years ago, but said Saturday it ultimately came down to joining a winning organization. For most free agents, of course, money is the No. 1 factor.

“He’s obviously a figure in this game a lot of people look up to and having him around is great,” Nathan said. “But I don’t think him leaving is going to sway guys to come here or not come here.”

Nathan, who turns 39 on Nov. 22, is expected to join the free agent list this winter, although he’s still a member of the Rangers for now. The club holds a $9 million option on him for next season, but he earned the right to void it by finishing 55 games this season.

No formal decision will be made until the World Series, but Nathan said he is seeking a two-year deal, and the Rangers have not broached that subject with him yet.

Nathan understands the Rangers’ situation going into the off-season, as they have internal options that would be less costly at closer. Joakim Soria and Neftali Feliz are former All-Star closers signed for next season, and Tanner Scheppers emerged as a dependable setup man and could be ready to take on the ninth.

“I’m not sure which route it’s going to go,” said Nathan, who had 43 saves and a 1.39 ERA last season. “I don’t know if they’re planning on picking the option up or not picking it up.

“We’re ready either way, and it’s no surprise that I’m going to try to look at getting at least a two-year deal. We’ll see if that can happen here in Texas, but I don’t know which path they want to go down. Whichever direction they come to us, we’re well prepared.”

Nathan, a 13-year veteran, remains focused on trying to position himself on a team with World Series aspirations and believes the Rangers are still that team despite an early exit in 2012 and missing out on the postseason this season.

“We were the best team in the American League at one point, and then we’d go on skids where we’d look like the worst team in baseball,” Nathan said. “We were a young team and with that comes some inconsistencies. As these guys get more experience, those inconsistencies become consistencies.

“So they’re still a team that is going to compete and still a team that can get to the World Series.”

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison

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