The Phillies are “pursuing a trade” with the Rangers to land southpaw Mike Minor, according to Scott Lauber of the Philadelphia Inquirer. It’s not yet clear how likely it is that a deal will come together.
Left-handed pitching has been one of several areas of focus for the Philadelphia organization this winter, with the club reportedly pursuing a variety of southpaw starters and relievers. As Lauber notes, it’s not clear whether the club would view Minor as a rotation or pen piece. Certainly, it’s possible that much of the appeal lies in his ability to occupy either role.
Minor signed on with the Texas organization last winter, wooed in part by the opportunity to return to a starting role after a nice bounceback campaign with the Royals as a reliever. He scored a $28MM deal over three seasons, with $19MM still to go over the coming two campaigns. That contract also includes limited no-trade protection, but it’s not clear if the Phillies are on his 10-team list — or, if so, whether that’d be expected to pose a barrier in talks.
Soon to turn 31 years of age, Minor turned in 157 innings of 4.18 ERA ball last year for the Rangers. That made him a useful asset, but perhaps not one that’d represent a major upgrade to a Phillies rotation that was mostly successful in 2018. Minor was not able to maintain all of the strides he had shown in 2017 when tasked with moving through orders multiple times.
Minor still threw harder (93.2 mph average fastball) than he did in his heyday with the Braves, but didn’t come close to matching the 95 mph heat he delivered in K.C. Meanwhile, his swinging-strike rate dropped from 11.8% in 2017 to 9.9% last year. It’s notable, too, that Minor has been much more effective against left-handed hitters.
The Phillies, who are said to be engaged on both Zach Britton and Andrew Miller, could see Minor as a possible multi-inning reliever and/or high-leverage lefty specialist. That he could always slide into the rotation, thus buttressing the team’s depth, is an appealing aspect that also distinguishes him from those other pitchers. Plus, Minor’s contract won’t hang a big number on the payroll for a lengthy term.
All of those concepts, of course, are also known to the Rangers and other possible suitors. It stands to reason that the Texas organization, which is presently working to re-tool its roster but has continued to invest in veteran pitching, would only be willing to move Minor if it can add truly worthwhile pieces in return.