The Texas Rangers could end up trading closer Joe Nathan as the trade deadline approaches.
Per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Rangers might trade Nathan:
If the Rangers proceed, it would be with the idea of dealing from strength and exploiting a thin market for relievers, sources said.
Nathan has been one of the most reliable closers this season, closing 32 of 34 games successfully with a 1.73 ERA. But the Rangers have had recent struggles with getting the ball in Nathan's hands. With the emergence of Joakim Soria and the former All-Star closer Neftali Feliz in the process of returning from Tommy John surgery, the bullpen could potentially become crowded come September.
As highlighted in Rosenthal's report, the Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers are all teams looking to upgrade their relief pitching.
Victor Martinez of the Detroit Tigers is one option. He fits the bill of a player the Rangers are looking for. He's a first baseman/catcher who wouldn't mind assuming the role of a designated hitter.
Even more fitting is Mike Napoli of the Boston Red Sox. The Rangers are still looking to fill his void, so why not bring him back? However, if bringing back former infielder Michael Young was shot down, why would Napoli be any different?
And what about the Los Angeles Dodgers? They could use a dominate closer, but do they have enough to offer? Andre Ethier is nice, but that's all. He's just nice. The Rangers could use a hitter with more power if they are trading away Nathan.
A team that could jump to the head of trade talks is the Colorado Rockies. The Rockies lack a closer and could be looking to make a run. Michael Cuddyer could be an option, despite the Rockies owner's intentions to not trade him.
As reported by Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post, Rockies owner Dick Monfort stated why Cuddyer is important to the team. He said, "Right-handed corner bats are pretty important. And put into the mix that he has major-league at bats, and he plays first base, too. So no, we won’t trade him."
However, the Rangers have former Rockies utility player Jeff Baker to offer. He would be a perfect fit for a return with the Rockies because he can play both corner infield and outfield positions, and he's hitting for a .326 average this season with nine home runs. Packaging Baker with Nathan could ease the owners into trading Cuddyer.
The shock of the Rangers' willingness to get rid of Nathan is great, but trading an All-Star for an All-star would make it easier to depart with the reliable closer.
Is Cuddyer a stretch? Who do you think the Rangers can bring in for Nathan?