Rangers add Minor to join starting rotation

Free-agent lefty joins Texas on 3-year, $28M contract

December 4th, 2017

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers identified left-hander Mike Minor as one of their top free-agent targets this offseason, and on Wednesday, they signed him to a three-year, $28 million contract to join their starting rotation.

Minor also has pitched as a reliever, but the Rangers signed him to go into their rotation along with Cole Hamels, and the recently signed Doug Fister.

"We have been pitching-focused since Day 1," general manager Jon Daniels said. "Mike has a history of starting and has some of the characteristics we have been focused on: strike-thrower, makeup, flexibility on the roster. The guy has upper-rotation ability. We have heard tremendous things about the makeup ... there are a lot of things on the list he ticked off that we like."

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Minor was a starter for the Braves from 2010-14 before missing two years because of left shoulder problems. He came back last year as a reliever for the Royals and was outstanding. Minor appeared in 65 games and pitched 77 2/3 innings, going 6-6 with six saves, a 2.55 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP.

Minor, who turns 30 on Dec. 26, was highly sought after as a reliever, but the Rangers were willing to give him a chance to start. There is still a possibility Minor could end up in the bullpen, depending how the rest of the offseason and Spring Training goes.

"I told [Daniels] I am comfortable in either role," Minor said at his introductory news conference. "It all depends on Spring Training and how the team shakes out."

Texas, even after signing Fister and Minor, is looking for more starting pitching. Daniels said the Rangers have had substantive conversations with other free-agent pitchers. The top pitchers on the market include , Alex Cobb, and .

"Every team is looking for star players," Daniels said. "It's not just specific to us. We have already added some guys who have pitched in some pretty big spots."

The Rangers are also considering the possibility of moving right-hander Matt Bush to the rotation.

"The staff has met with Matt and laid out a plan," Daniels said. "Matt will continue to throw as a starter and may end up in the rotation. He may also learn from the process."

Minor's best year as a starter was in 2013, when he went 13-9 with a 3.21 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in a career-high 32 starts and 204 2/3 innings. But he fell to 6-12 with a 4.77 ERA and 1.44 WHIP in 25 starts in '14 before coming down with the shoulder injuries.

Minor's last start in the Major Leagues was on Sept. 20, 2014. His longest outing last season was three innings on April 20 against Texas. He threw a season-high 49 pitches against Minnesota on July 1.

"There will be obstacles with any pitcher," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "As far as the number of innings, you look at all these pitches, we'll take care of each one of these guys as we always have."

Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)

Minor was exclusively a reliever last season -- his first since 2014 after missing two full years with shoulder woes -- but he showed in '13 (3.21 ERA, 1.09 WHIP in 32 starts) that he can thrive out of a big league rotation. The 29-year-old would have received a greater fantasy boost had Texas signed him to save games, but he nonetheless has enough upside to be a late-round mixed-league pick as a projected arm on the Rangers' starting staff.