According to Ken Rosenthal (MLB on FOX), in a report that has been confirmed locally, the Rangers have agreed to terms with 29-year-old free agent lefthander Mike Minor, pending a physical. Jon Morosi (MLB.com) reports that it’s a multi-year deal.
Minor, who pitched out of the Kansas City bullpen in 2017 after missing two seasons with a shoulder injury that led to surgery, had been a starter over five seasons with the Braves, who had made him the seventh pick overall in the 2009 draft. In 2013, his fourth year in the big leagues, the southpaw went 13–9, 3.21 in 32 starts, limiting hitters to a slash line of .232/.275/.382. Non-tendered by Atlanta after his first season down with the shoulder injury, Kansas City signed him to a $7.25 million deal covering two years — the first of which he would spend rehabbing — and a mutual option for 2018.
After missing 2016, Minor pitched in relief in 2017 with the Royals (88 strikeouts and 19 unintentional walks in 77.2 innings, opponents’ slash line of .204/.263/.321), seeing his fastball velocity jump from 91.4 mph pre-injury to 94.4, and doubling both his strike percentage and swing-and-miss rates with the pitch. He also gained three miles per hour on his slider (85.7 to 88.5), with a similar uptick in effectiveness both in the zone and out of it. According to Statcast, the “contact quality” of Minor’s arsenal (expected wOBA against) was seventh-best among all big league relievers this season, and the spin rate on his fastball was the third highest of any reliever.
It was Minor — who Morosi reports will go to camp with Texas as a starter — and not the Royals who declined the mutual option he had for 2018 a month ago, an option that would have paid him $10 million this year. Kansas City was interested in bringing him back, but he was clearly banking on a multi-year deal coming off his standout season and, as Morosi notes, it appears he got it. Terms haven’t been announced, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see it in that $10 million AAV range or a tick higher.
What’s really interesting about this move, aside from the addition of the player himself — a “pretty popular guy on the market,” according to Jerry Crasnick (ESPN) — is that he signed so quickly. Whether that’s an indication that the Rangers floated an offer that he didn’t feel he could sit on, or that Texas was uniquely committed to returning Minor to the rotation, or that this is simply where he wanted to be, it’s a pickup that I really like, an aggressive add that, combined with last week’s signing of Doug Fister and today’s reupping of Tony Barnette, has the Rangers coming to terms with as many big league free agents so far this winter as all other teams combined.
The Rangers also signed Chi Chi Gonzalez to a minor league deal today, bringing him back despite what will be a year lost to rehab. It’s on a different scale, of course, from the contract the Royals gave Minor two winters ago knowing he would be sidelined for a year, but Gonzalez is a depth move for the future. The Minor pickup is for right now.
And, if it’s for three years or more, you know the vision is for the toolsy lefthander to take the ball to start sometime in the first series ever played at Globe Life Field. Maybe a day or two after a righthander whom the Rangers have been granted a meeting with sometime this week in Los Angeles, before the baseball world convenes a week from now in Orlando for the Winter Meetings, where the flurry of off-season activity typically takes off.
The Rangers’ strike percentage is already on display.