Braves left-hander Mike Minor made it clear last week that he’d welcome a trade under certain circumstances. While he doesn’t have the power to demand a deal, his comments appear to have irked Braves decision makers. Should Atlanta decide to address other needs by parting with starting pitching depth, Minor could be traded.
At this point, Minor is competing for a rotation spot with prospects Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado, so trade talk is purely speculative. Plus, Minor has options remaining, so he can be sent to the minor leagues whether he likes it or not. Let’s look ahead to how he might be valued on the trade market and to which teams could have interest.
First, what kind of pitcher is Minor? He has a 4.74 ERA with 8.8 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 and a 36.4% ground ball rate in 123 1/3 innings at the Major League level. The 24-year-old's peripheral stats (3.63 FIP, 3.63 SIERA, .359 opponents' BABIP) suggest his ERA is inflated by about a run and can be expected to drop given his skillset.
Teams covet controllable, MLB ready players and Minor fits that description perfectly. Minor, the Braves’ 2009 first round pick, has less than one year of MLB service time (138 days). His relative inexperience means he's not projected to hit free agency until after the 2017 season. He'll be making close to the MLB minimum through 2013, at which point he projects to qualify for arbitration as a super two player.
Minor’s arguably someone who could help a big league team win now by providing steady innings at the back of a rotation. Contenders such as the Red Sox, Tigers and Angels have competition in their rotations entering Spring Training and could have interest. Teams like the Blue Jays, Royals, Athletics, Astros and Pirates aren’t necessarily in win-now mode, but many would figure to have interest in a controllable left-hander who induces swings and misses.
Recent trades involving Michael Pineda, Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill and Mat Latos showed that controllable, young starting pitching is a commodity for which teams are willing to surrender multiple top prospects. Though Minor’s accomplishments don’t compare to those of the pitchers above, he has shown enough as a professional that the Braves could demand one top young player or prospect plus a supplementary piece in a possible trade. There’s no reason to believe GM Frank Wren intends to part with Minor, but if the left-hander does become available, expect him to draw significant interest.