'I Want To Be a Part Of It'; Mike Minor Interested in Extension With the Rangers
After missing two entire seasons, Mike Minor revived his career as a reliever for the Kansas City Royals. Vastly improved numbers and an uptick in velocity and spin-rate, Minor set himself up for a hefty payday on the free agent market.
Of course, that hefty payday is relative to what relievers get paid on the free agent market nowadays. Many expected a big market club to offer Minor an extravagant offer as a reliever, but Minor had every interest of making a return as a starter. The Texas Rangers gave him that opportunity.
Only two years after having a successful run as a reliever following a two-year absence from baseball, Minor logged over 208 innings, struck out 200 batters and finished eighth in the American League Cy Young voting. He was honored Friday night as the Rangers' 2019 Pitcher of the Year.
"I felt like I have a lot to build on. It was a step in the right direction," Minor told the media on Friday night. "Lance [Lynn] could've easily won that too."
Minor resurrected his career as a starter in these past two seasons all while becoming the Rangers' main workhorse. Lance Lynn joined the rotation last offseason and thrust himself as a righthanded complement atop the rotation alongside Minor.
"Last year, there was a lot of pressure on me and Lance to win a lot of the games that we pitched," Minor said. "Now we have those guys to fill in and pitch competitive innings."
"I like it a lot," Minor said. "With what they showed last year and what they've done in their careers, I think we have a good shot this year at making the playoffs.
"If me and Lance can repeat and Corey can bounce back...I feel like you've got three potential aces."
Let's not downplay how good Minor and Lynn were in 2019. They can get overlooked because they were on a 78-win team, but each of the two pitchers had 7.6 bWAR, logged exactly 208 1/3 innings and struck out at least 200 batters. In the American League, these are not easy feats.
Management is now pivoting from a rebuild to contention. On paper, the Rangers have one of the deepest 1-through-5 starting rotations in their division, and maybe even in the American League.
At the same time, Minor is entering the final year of his three-year contract that gave him the opportunity to revive his career as a starter. Many might speculate that Minor will do what he can to get another nice payday, but he isn't so quick to lunge at the fattest check quite yet.
"I feel like I’ve endured the worst part of it," Minor said. "I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I can see the direction [general manager] Jon Daniels is going, and I want to be a part of it. I don’t want to jump ship now when it’s going to be good.”
Locking up Minor for more years doesn't come without risks, but not all the typical ones may apply in Minor's situation. Teams are usually skeptical about offering rich, multi-year deals to 33-year-old pitchers. Given Minor's injury history, that skepticism is likely to be inflated.
However, Minor hasn't logged the same amount of innings as most 32-year-old pitchers that are on the verge of another payday. If the Rangers don't extend Minor before next offseason, teams may take that into account and be more inclined to offer multi-year deals. The Rangers would likely have a good amount of competition in their efforts to reunite with Minor.
General manager Jon Daniels said they haven't had discussions with Minor yet, but may look to address it at spring training.
"We haven't had any extension discussions with anybody at this point," Daniels said. "That's more of a February or March topic that we may hit on with some guys."
The Rangers are entering a season where they have one of the most formidable rotations they've ever had – at least on paper. Minor is a big reason why. He's been a fantastic find for the Rangers and given them a foundation to add to the rotation as they shift towards becoming a contender again.
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