By signing Joe Nathan to a two-year, $14.5 million contract the Rangers showed that they’re committed to moving Neftali Feliz into the rotation and the 23-year-old closer issued a statement saying he’s on board with the switch:
Jon Daniels and Ron Washington called me a couple of days ago and told me about the team’s decision for me to be a starting pitcher next season. I was a starter for my whole career before I came to the major leagues. I am happy to know the team’s decision this early, and I have plenty of time to get ready. I have already started running. I have time to work on my changeup and all my pitches. I know I have to work hard to be ready to help my team as a starter so we can get back to the playoffs.
Communicating their intentions ahead of time seems like an important thing after the Rangers waffled on their preference for his role last spring training and Feliz in turn was also unsure. He worked as a starter early in camp and then shifted back to the bullpen, with Alexi Ogando instead emerging as the bullpen-to-rotation success story of 2011.
Feliz has had more success at a younger age than just about any closer in baseball history, but as he said in the statement he came up through the minor leagues as a top-rated starter prospect and it always makes sense to find out if a young pitcher can thrive in a 200-inning role before putting him in a 70-inning role for life.
If he establishes himself as a No. 1 or No. 2 starter and Nathan stays healthy at closer the Rangers will have essentially replaced C.J. Wilson for $7 million per season. And after moving Wilson and Ogando into the rotation during the past two seasons Texas deserves a lot of credit for thinking outside the box with starting pitching.
Last night we heard the beginning of rumblings of a possible three-team trade involving the Yankees, Mets and Marlins that could involve J.T. Realmuto and Noah Syndergaard. Those rumblings — while still off in the distance — are getting a bit louder this morning, with reports floating that the Marlins are driving it and that it’s not just wishcasting from New York.
Into that mix comes something interesting: Ken Rosenthal reports that the Yankees are open to moving third baseman Miguel Andujar and that he’s “a name to watch.”
Coming as it does after that Yankees-Mets-Marlins chatter might mean that Andujar could be involved in all of that and, if he is, that could make for a monster deal. Such a blockbuster would certainly be a good enough reason to part with Andujar despite a strong rookie season in which he hit.297/.328/.527 with 27 homers and 92 RBI. Worth noting that moving him could also open up third base for a big acquisition like Manny Machado, but that’s separate speculation, I suppose.
Not that any of this would be that easy, of course, especially if it involved the Mets. The Mets and Yankees rarely make trades with one another, and if they were to do one, it’d have to be something that the Mets could claim, convincingly, that they won lest they get raked over the tabloid coals. That being said, the Marlins reportedly want an established major leaguer in any deal for Realmuto and the Mets reportedly want more than just Realmuto if they were to give up Syndergaard. As such, Andujar could fit into that in any number of ways.
There’s obviously there’s a long way to go on this sort of thing, but the names floating around talks with the Yankees, Mets and Marlins are quite interesting and could suggest something big is brewing.