"We talked about it, but we knew we couldn't afford him," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said.
The Rangers could and signed Minor to a three-year, $28 million contract. The intention is to move him back from the bullpen to the rotation, and Minor made his first spring start on Monday. Pitching against the Dodgers in a 9-6 Rangers loss, Minor allowed three runs on three hits and three walks over 1 2/3 innings.
"It was pretty bad," Minor said. "I just wanted to throw strikes. They were hacking and I was keeping the ball up."
All three runs came in the second inning and were unearned because of shortstop Jurickson Profar's throwing error. But Minor also walked the leadoff hitter in each inning.
"Right now my mechanics feel off, so I'm not throwing the ball where I want to," Minor said. "I'm trying to work on it. I have had a lot of bad springs, so I'm not worried about it. None of my pitches feel good right now. I just want to feel healthy. If I'm healthy, I can get outs. I'll figure it out in the spring and be ready for the season."
The Rangers expect Minor to be ready for the season. He will be given a chance to start and he wants to earn that spot even though he was dominating as a reliever for the Royals last year.
"I have been a starter my whole life," Minor said. "Even though I had success as a reliever, I liked it and did well, but I still think I am a starter. I want to go back to it and give it a chance again."
If it works out, the Rangers can thank their Spring Training partners if Minor has an impact on the rotation. The Royals did the heavy lifting in getting Minor back to health.
He was a starter for the Braves from 2010-14, but missed all of '15 with a torn labrum in his left shoulder. He became a free agent and signed a two-year deal with the Royals, but couldn't make it back in '16 as a starter. He pitched 10 games in the Minors on a rehab stint, but never felt good enough to get back to the big leagues.
The Royals stayed patient and moved him to the bullpen last year. He was outstanding, going 6-6 with a 2.55 ERA, six saves and holding opponents to a .204 batting average.
"He was great," Moore said. "We signed him to a two-year deal with the hope and expectation in that second year he would perform really well for us and he did that. It's not easy to go from a starting pitcher and overcome injury and be a dominant reliever the way he was.
"The thing that makes him successful is he is fearless. He can get you out multiple ways. The fact that he was a starter, developed three or four pitches, helps him as a reliever as well because they can't sit on one pitch. The key thing is he stayed healthy. The Rangers did a tremendous job of signing him. He'll do really well."