Now closing games for the Texas Rangers: TBA.
The Rangers and Joe Nathan are almost certain to part ways after two seasons, general manager Jon Daniels said Friday, after the club exercised its option and Nathan, in turn, declined the player portion and became a free agent.
Nathan, who turns 39 on Nov. 21, is seeking a two-year contract, and the Rangers would rather use the money Nathan would command on other, more pressing needs for the 2014 club.
The next Rangers closer is likely to be one of three right-handers on the roster — Joakim Soria, Neftali Feliz or Tanner Scheppers. Alexi Ogando, currently penciled in as a starter, could join in the mix if a starter is added this off-season.
“We feel like the bullpen in general is an area of strength for us and an area of depth,” Daniels said. “I would expect our closer, ultimately, to be, barring something unforeseen at this point, somebody already in the organization.
“The general feeling would be to get to spring training, see how the roster shakes out at that point, and see how everyone looks and feels and what’s best for the team. We’ve got another group of guys who have either done it before or have that kind of ability to handle it.”
Daniels said that he will stay in touch with Nathan and agent Dave Pepe. The sides had a frank discussion about how the Rangers were going to move forward if Nathan accepted the option, including the possibility that the Rangers would have traded away bullpen pieces to acquire help in need areas.
But Nathan declined, and should command a high salary after closing 80 games with a 2.09 ERA the past two seasons. He earned the right to decline the club option after reaching games-finished thresholds.
“Joe’s been outstanding for us on and off the field,” Daniels said. “We’ve got some other areas that are maybe a higher priority for us to address and how we are going to allocate our resources.”
Both of the Rangers’ catcher in 2013 — A.J. Pierzynski and Geovany Soto — are free agents, and the Rangers need a left fielder and designated hitter and have considered upgrading at first base.
They were short on rotation depth last season, and could bolster that by re-signing free agent Matt Garza.
Jones to join staff
Longtime Triple A manager Bobby Jones will be added to manager Ron Washington’s coaching staff as either the first-base coach or as a seventh coach who could fill a variety of roles.
Daniels said that the Rangers continue to seek an assistant who will work with the team’s catchers. That coach could also be the first-base coach, which could make Jones the replacement for 2013 assistant hitting coach Cesar Hernandez.
Steve Buechele, who has been the manager at Double A Frisco the past three seasons, is the leading candidate to replace Jones at Triple A Round Rock.
The Rangers made their second waiver claim of the off-season when they received right-hander Chaz Roe from Arizona. They claimed lefty Edwar Cabrera from Colorado on Oct. 16.
Roe, 27, made his major-league debut this year for Arizona, going 1-0 with a 4.03 ERA in 22 1/3 innings. A former supplemental first-rounder by Colorado in 2005 (32nd overall), Roe pitched in 2012 for the Laredo Lemurs of the independent American Association. His manager was former Rangers star Pete Incaviglia.
The move leaves the Rangers at 33 players on their 40-man roster. Cabrera (shoulder) and Matt Harrison (back) are on the 60-day disabled list.