Rangers, closer Neftali Feliz reach agreement, avoid arbitration
The Rangers avoided salary arbitration with right-hander Neftali Feliz, agreeing Thursday with their expected closer on a one-year contract for $4,125,000.
Feliz will get a chance this season to return to the full-time closing role he had for both of the Rangers’ World Series teams in 2010 and 2011. That was before an injury-plagued attempt to become a starter.
Following Feliz’s deal, left-hander Ross Detwiler and designated hitter Mitch Moreland were the only remaining Rangers left in arbitration.
Feliz was 2-1 with 13 saves and a 1.99 ERA in 30 relief appearances after rejoining Texas last July. He made $3 million.
During the seasons when Texas won consecutive AL pennants, Feliz had 81 saves. He was within a strike of getting a save in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series against St. Louis and finishing what would have been the Rangers’ first title when he allowed David Freese’s tying, two-run triple just over the glove of a leaping Nelson Cruz at the right-field wall. St. Louis won in 11 innings and took the title in Game 7.
Texas added closer Joe Nathan on a two-year deal after that and made the hard-throwing Feliz a starter in 2012. Feliz went 3-1 with a 3.16 ERA in eight games before right elbow issues led to Tommy John surgery on Aug. 1, 2012.
Feliz made six appearances at the end of the 2013 season after more than a year of rehab. He then spent the first half of last season at Triple-A Round Rock.
Only a couple of weeks after Feliz rejoined Texas, the Rangers traded Joaquin Soria, the closer who had succeeded Nathan, and let Feliz work in that role again.
Feliz is fourth in team history with 87 career saves, and his .179 career opponents batting average is the lowest in club history among pitchers with at least 200 innings.
The 26-year-old Feliz will be eligible for free agency after the 2016 season.