The Texas Rangers have now played their hand with regard to C.J. Wilson, the team’s pitching leader of the 2011 season. In the few short weeks since losing to the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series, the Rangers have been relatively quiet about their intentions for Wilson, perhaps because the team knew Wilson might command more money in his year of free agency than the Rangers felt he was worth.
Rangers Sign Free Agent Joe Nathan
On Tuesday, the Rangers pulled the proverbial wild card from their sleeve, signing free agent closer Joe Nathan, who spent the last six seasons with the Minnesota Twins as the team’s closer. Nathan has a lifetime ERA of 2.38, and an opponents’ batting average of .189, the second lowest among active relievers (source: mlb.com). Texas signed the 37 year-old Nathan to a two-year contract for $14.5 million.
Nathan spent the 2011 season recovering from an earlier “Tommy John” surgery. And in response to questions from the Dallas press at the news conference, neither the Rangers nor Nathan expressed anything but confidence regarding his full recovery, indicated by his second half performance with the Twins.
So, what effect does this have on C.J. Wilson’s possibility of signing with the Rangers? It probably says a lot. As late as the week before Nathan’s signing, the Rangers were expressing an interest in resigning Wilson, but it seemed to be a tepid public relations move more than anything else.
The Rangers were more disappointed in Wilson’s performances in the World Series, both in 2010 and in 2011, than the team’s executives have let on to be. However, general manager Jon Daniels, the team’s architect, had in mind something that virtually no one saw coming, the signing of a true closer, Joe Nathan, enabling the team to make another major move with no additional salary costs for the 2012 season.