Joe Nathan expected to decline 2014 option, become free agent

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By reaching 55 games finished this season Joe Nathan got the ability to decline his 2014 option and T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports that the Rangers expect the veteran closer to do exactly that.

Nathan would be turning down $9.5 million for 2014, but he’s looking for a multi-year deal and even at age 38 he’s been dominant enough to warrant it on the open market. Nathan saved 43 games with a 1.39 ERA and 73/22 K/BB ratio in 65 innings this season and posted a 2.09 ERA in 129 innings overall for the Rangers after coming back from Tommy John elbow surgery.

So will Texas make a multi-year bid to keep him? Sullivan doesn’t seem to think so, writing that “the Rangers are preparing to look at other options for their closer with Joakim Soria, Neftali Feliz and possibly Tanner Scheppers as the prime options.”

MLB to move the draft to Omaha on the eve of the College World Series

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SAN DIEGO — We spend a lot of time on these pages criticizing Major League Baseball’s decisions. And yeah, they make a lot of questionable decisions (or logical decisions which serve questionable motives). But in the past day or so they’ve certainly gotten a couple of things right.

First was what we posted about last night: MLB moving to take marijuana off the banned substance list for minor leaguers. This, combined with the recent report that MLB/MLBPA are moving to a treatment, as opposed to a punishment-based regimen for opioids, shows that sense, as opposed to hysteria and optics, is beginning to move to the fore when it comes to baseball’s drug policies. It’s certainly welcome.

Also reported last night — by Kendall Rogers of the website d1baseball.com — Major League Baseball plans to move the amateur draft from the MLB Network studios in New Jersey to Omaha, Nebraska, and schedule it at just at the start of the College World Series. The move has not been officially announced yet, but I’d expect an MLB press release on it before we all get on our planes on Thursday morning.

It would be nicely coordinated too, Rogers says, coming just after the super regionals but before the actual CWS. This would allow the top players expected to go to all be on hand, either as players in the CWS or because, hey, they just got done and would probably be there anyway. It’s way better than putting a six guys in a green room in Secaucus. That’s always so awkward. You can tell they don’t really want to be there and don’t know what to do with themselves. In Omaha they’ll be among their friends, teammates, family, and counterparts. The atmosphere will almost certainly radically change for the better.

It’s still a very, very tall order to ever create the same level of interest in the MLB draft that exists for the NFL or NBA drafts, as the structure of college football and basketball and the fame of its stars is a totally different deal coming in. But this is a positive move forward for the baseball draft. Good job to whoever’s idea it was.