KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 20: Reflief pitcher Neftali Feliz #30 of the Texas Rangers is pulled from the game by Manager Ron Washington #38 after walking in the winning run during the 8th inning of the game at Kauffman Stadium on September 20, 2013 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals defeated the Rangers with a final score of 2-1. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
When the Texas Rangers made the decision to not offer Joe Nathan a qualifying offer for the 2014 season, it became clear they had no intentions of bringing him back for the 2014 season after two stellar years of being the team's closer and a 2013 season that was close to a career-best for the possible future Hall of Fame closer.
It makes sense that the Rangers didn't want to spend money on Nathan (he ended up getting two years for $20 million from Detroit) considering the options the Rangers have on their roster already to replace him.
Tanner Scheppers burst on to the scene in 2013 as one of the league's top set-up men and could have closer potential down the road. Neftali Feliz was the AL Rookie of the Year in 2010 with 40 saves and closed out the ALCS clincher that year, striking out Alex Rodriguez to give the Rangers their first pennant. Then, there's Joakim Soria, who was a three-time all-star closer in Kansas City before suffering an arm injury and beginning to work his way back from Tommy John surgery last season.
The Dallas Morning News' Evan Grant reported that Feliz is throwing 90-93 mph in the Dominican winter league right now and is expected to be back up into the mid-90s by the time the season rolls around.
Grant also brought up an interesting point, talking about Feliz's relationship with former Rangers catcher Bengie Molina, who was hired on to Ron Washington's staff this offseason. Molina really groomed Feliz into being a top closer in 2010, in his half-season with the Rangers before retiring. With Molina back on staff, Grant said he'll help groom Feliz once again, back into a quality closer after he spent the 2012 season as a starter before undergoing Tommy John surgery and returning this past September as a reliever with good results.