SEATTLE -- Rangers closer Joe Nathan earned his 16th save with a 1-2-3 inning in Saturday night's 5-2 victory over the Mariners. Nathan is now tied for second in the American League in saves, but he ranks first in games finished with 21. The number is significant in regards to his contract.
Nathan is in the second season of a two-year, $14.75 million contract. The Rangers also hold an option on 2014 for $9 million with a $750,000 buyout. But Nathan has the right to void that option and become an unrestricted free agent if he has 55 games finished this year and a total of 100 in 2012-13. He had 62 games finished last season, so both numbers are reachable for him.
But Nathan's concern is not voiding the option. He is hoping to pitch well enough to convince the Rangers to pick up the option.
"Yeah, I do know the significance of games finished, and I know what it means to my contract," Nathan said. "I don't see it as being that big of a deal. I still want the team to pick up the option. That's the ultimate goal. You always want your team to want you there. It is nice to have a choice, but at the same time you want the team to feel confident about picking up the option. If I stay healthy, at the end of the day, my games finished will be where they need to be. But ultimately you want the organization to want you."
Nathan has been successful on 16 straight save opportunities, the longest streak of his career to begin a season. Nathan has also saved 31 straight on the road for the Rangers and 36 straight overall on the road going back to his time with the Twins. That's tied for the fifth-longest road save streak since 1969. Eric Gagne holds the record with 64 straight road saves from 2002-07 with the Dodgers and Rangers.