KANSAS CITY -- Reliever Joe Nathan would like to stay with the Rangers on a multiyear contract beyond 2014. That's why he has a clause in his contract that allows him to become a free agent after this season.
Nathan triggered that clause when he pitched the ninth inning in the Rangers' 8-2 victory over the Rays on Thursday. It was the 55th game he finished this season. Under the terms of his contract, the Rangers have a $9.5 million option on Nathan for 2014. But he now has the right to void that option and become a free agent because he has 55 games finished.
He'd rather stay with the Rangers on a multiyear deal. His options would be a multiyear deal with the Rangers, void the option and try to get a multiyear deal elsewhere or play in 2014 on the one-year, $9.5 million option.
"The only reason to have that incentive in play is to have a little bit of power in getting a multiyear deal," Nathan said. "Other than that, I'm just glad to get to that point and have it over and done with. Not that I was worried about it, but now I don't have to concern myself with it. I can focus on what's important."
The Rangers will wait until after the season to discuss all their potential free agents.
"We have not had any discussions on our class of free agents and Joe is prominent among them," assistant general manager Thad Levine said. "At the end of the season, we'll turn our attention to those type of discussions."
Nathan is 5-2 with a 1.53 ERA and 39 saves in 42 chances going into Friday night's series opener against the Royals. He blew his third save on Wednesday in a 4-3 loss to the Rays. That's why he wanted to pitch on Thursday against the Rays even though the Rangers had a six-run lead going into the ninth inning.
"For sure, I just wanted to get the bad taste out of my mouth," Nathan said. "I told them if we had a lead, I'd like to get back on the mound. They said we'll see what kind of lead it is. I wasn't sure what they had in mind, but I wanted to get back in there and get a good taste in my mouth in case we see them again."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.