Rangers open to trading closer Joe Nathan

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FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal shares this big scoop:

Teams in need of a closer soon may have a stunning new possibility to consider.

The Texas Rangers have had internal discussions about trading All-Star right-hander Joe Nathan, according to major league sources.

If the Rangers proceed, it would be with the idea of dealing from strength and exploiting a thin market for relievers, sources said.

It’s a risky and bold but intelligent move. The market for late-inning relievers is especially soft this summer and Nathan could easily fetch a highly-thought-of prospect or a major league-ready bat.

The 38-year-old has registered a 1.73 ERA, 0.84 WHIP and 44/11 K/BB ratio across 41 2/3 innings this season for the second-place Rangers and he is 32-for-34 in save opportunities. Nathan carries a $9 million club option for 2014 but can void it if he finishes 55 games in 2013. He has already finished 39 as of July 27.

Texas would presumably roll with Joakim Soria at closer down the stretch and into the postseason.

Report: Twins sign Erick Aybar to minor-league deal

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The Twins have reportedly signed free agent shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported Friday. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the deal comes with a potential $1.25 million if Aybar reaches the majors, with additional incentives based on plate appearances. He’ll be able to opt out on March 27. The team has yet to confirm the signing.

Aybar, 34, is now four years removed from his career year in 2014. He’s been in a state of steady decline since then, slashing just .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases over 370 plate appearances for the Padres in 2017. His poor performance wasn’t helped by a fractured left foot, either, which cost him almost six weeks on the disabled list.

Still, the Twins see something promising in the veteran infielder, and reportedly intend to use him as another utility option this spring. Per Neal, Aybar will join fellow backup infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza and may even (temporarily) take over for Miguel Sano at third base if Sano isn’t able to shape up for the role by Opening Day.