Reports surfaced on Monday night that the Twins all-time saves leader had signed a free agent contract with the Texas Rangers. The deal is for two seasons and $14.5 million with a club option for 2014.
The Rangers are the two-time defending champions of the American League and one of their strengths over the last two seasons has been their bullpen. Neftali Feliz, who had been the closer for the Rangers, will be making the transition to the starting rotation. This leaves the closing duties for Texas in the hands of Nathan for the start of the 2012 season.
It seemed that in the free agent process Nathan had made it clear that he wanted to play for a winner next season. The Twins might not fall into that category for the coming year and Nathan is running out of opportunities to win a championship before his career is over. The Rangers will most certainly be the favorites to win the AL West and there will be many that pick Texas to represent the American League in the World Series.
Over most of the last decade, Nathan provided Twins fans with so many memories: Multiple All-Star appearances, the mess he got out of in Game 163, and passing Rick Aguilera for the most saves while wearing a Twins uniform. Not all of his 260 saves with the Twins was perfect but he was one of the most dominant closers during the seven seasons he pitched for the Twins. It is hard to believe that he was just a lanky right-handed pitcher that was part of the trade for AJ Pierzynski back in 2003.
As a fan, I hate to see him go but I appreciate all he gave to this franchise.
Thanks for everything, Joe. Good luck in Texas (except when you face the Twins).