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Rangers Sign Joe Nathan, Neftali Feliz Headed For Rotation

The Rangers have found their successor to Neftali Feliz in the closer role in veteran Joe Nathan. Nathan successfully returned from a serious injury to finish 2011 in strong fashion.

According to a number of media reports, the Rangers have signed Joe Nathan to a two-year contract with an option for a third year. The deal reportedly guarantees Nathan $14.5 million. As a result, Neftali Feliz is headed for the rotation, as Richard Durrett reports:

The move means closer Neftali Feliz will move into the rotation, something the club has already informed him about.

Nathan, a Houston native, had closed for the Twins for six years before missing the 2010 season after arm surgery. He came back in 2011 and started slowly, blowing two save opportunities, losing a game, and posting a 10 ERA in April. After the rough month he walked just seven and struck out 36 for the rest of the year, saving all 11 of his opportunities after the all-star break. Nathan turns 37 Tuesday and will head the newly constructed back end of the Texas bullpen, fronting a setup group that includes Mike Adams, Koji Uehara and Mark Lowe

The biggest news related to the move may be Feliz's move to a starting role. The club looked at shifting him last spring, but a shaky bullpen prevented it. The rotation is arguably full now, even without CJ Wilson returning. Colby Lewis will return for a third year, while Matt Harrison and Derek Holland entrenched themselves with solid seasons. Alexi Ogando could return to a setup role if a starter is still added, though he was arguably the Rangers' best starter over the first half.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.