UPDATE II: Via Jeff Wilson, Nathan will earn $7 million in 2012 and 2013 while the contract includes a $9 million club option for 2014 or a $500,000 buyout.
UPDATE: Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that Nathan is guaranteed $14.5 million over the length of the contract, including the buyout for the option year.
Meanwhile, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports that Feliz has been informed he will indeed make the move to the starting rotation.
8:07 PM: In a move that likely indicates Neftali Feliz is headed to the starting rotation next season, T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports that the Rangers have signed Joe Nathan. Full details aren’t yet known, but Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports that he will receive a two-year contract with an option for a third year.
Nathan, who turns 37 tomorrow, made his way back from Tommy John surgery this season and posted a 4.84 ERA, 14 saves and 43/14 K/BB ratio over 44 2/3 innings. The veteran right-hander pitched much better when he regained the closer’s role from Matt Capps following the All-Star break, posting a 3.91 ERA and 22/5 K/BB ratio over 23 innings.
While the Rangers waffled on the situation earlier this year, they have said that they want to make a decision Feliz’s status going into spring training, so this would presumably set the stage for him to make a permanent move to the starting rotation.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.