The Rangers’ surprising flirtation with the .500 mark and the American League Wild Card race — they’re currently 27-26 on the season and a half game from the second Wild Card spot — make them one of the more surprising teams of the year. Texas tried to patch together an entire rotation behind holdover Mike Minor this past offseason, trading for Drew Smyly, adding Edinson Volquez to the big league roster (he’d been on a two-year minor league deal) and signing the duo of Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller. With the Astros owning the division for the past several seasons and the A’s coming off a 97-win campaign of their own, there wasn’t much hope that Texas would contend for much of anything.
That may ultimately prove to be the case in the end, but at the moment the team is in better standing than most would’ve expected at the (nearly) one-third mark of the season. At the very least, it’s created some interesting questions moving forward — with Minor’s own future in the organization perhaps chief among them. The Athletic’s Jayson Stark tweeted yesterday that Minor’s potential presence on the summer trade market is a frequent topic of discussion among rival front offices, while his colleague, Ken Rosenthal, touched on the subject as the lead-in to his latest notes column.
Minor, indeed, seems like he’d be a highly coveted asset should the Rangers shop him this July. Starting pitching is always in heavy demand and short supply on the summer trade market — particularly when you’re discussing options that are more than pure rentals. Minor is earning $9.5MM in 2019 (with about $6.28MM yet to be paid out), and he’s guaranteed that same salary in 2020 under the three-year, $28MM contract he signed with Texas prior to the 2018 season. Considering his performance, that looks eminently reasonable.
The Rangers were surely pleased with the 4.18 ERA that Minor authored over 157 innings out of the rotation in 2018, especially given that it was his first work as a starting pitcher since 2014 with the Braves. Texas signed him on the heels of a terrific run out of the Royals’ bullpen, and the organization’s decision to put him back in a starting rotation looked justified based on that alone.
In 2019, Minor has taken things a step further. He’s pitched 70 2/3 innings of 2.55 ERA ball with improvements in his strikeout rate, ground-ball rate and swinging-strike rate. He’s been less prone to home runs as well, averaging 0.89 per nine innings pitched despite the launching pad in which he pitches his home games. Fielding-independent pitching metrics forecast a bit of regression on his excellent ERA but still are generally bullish on him as a solid mid-rotation arm. As is the case every summer, solid mid-rotation arms will likely be hard to come by this year, and Minor’s contractual status only enhances his appeal.
Back on Opening Day, it would’ve been simpler to see those numbers and expect that Minor would be among the top assets on the trade market. The overall team performance at least makes that thought more debatable, though. The question the Rangers have to ask themselves is whether the current club can conquer its obvious shortcomings enough to remain in the race. And, even if that’s not in the cards, whether Minor could be part of a more legitimate contender a year from now. Their defense is porous based on Defensive Runs Saved (-25) and UZR/150 (-2.8). Their bullpen, headlined by a terrible start from closer Jose Leclerc, has pitched poorly. The rotation is top-heavy and lacks depth. The chances of a postseason berth, even with Minor on board, appear thin, and the team is lacking in upper-level pitching talent — the type that could be netted in a Minor deal.
On the flipside of the coin, the Rangers rank third in the Majors in runs scored. Texas also has just $85MM committed to the next year’s payroll and a tiny arbitration class where only Joey Gallo and Nomar Mazara project for raises of note. For a team whose Opening Day payroll was $165MM as recently as 2017, there’ll be ample room to supplement the current roster. That will mean filling multiple holes, as the Rangers are currently enjoying production from one-year stopgaps like Logan Forsythe and Hunter Pence, but they’ll have plenty of budget room — particularly with Shin-Soo Choo finally off the books after 2020.
The Minor contract has turned into a success for the Rangers, but it now also leaves them with a bit of a decision on their hands. How should they proceed?Link to poll for Trade Rumors app users)
they should trade him once they geta few more warm bodies.
So they can go right back to looking for a solid starter for next year???? Unless they are blown away with an offer they should keep him as you still need good solid veterans to mix in with the rookies coming up. With Minor and Lynn you can now work in 2-3 rookies and not totally lose the clubhouse. If you trade this guy while you still have a playoff chance, and he is a big reason why, that is sending a very bad message to your team. Guys will flat out quit and have zero faith in management forever more. Very bad precedence to set.
The Ranger Fan
oz10….. I just realized we signed Lynn for three years at 30 million, would you trade Lynn and Minor for AAA pitching,then sign top guys next year ?. We only have $85 million committed next year,surely John Daniels will get some quality to go in the new stadium.
As a Braves fan, it’s great seeing Minor finally see sustained success. Interesting out of all those prospects, he has outlasted them. I guess there was something to that top-10 pick.
He always seems to have a flat third,
One game over .500 the definition of mediocre and right in the playoff hunt. MLB needs to do something to address the current lack of competitiveness. Too many teams not trying it hurts the overall product.
I watch almost every Rangers game. I assure you they’re trying. This team was expected to lose an s-ton of games, and they’re overperforming. I can’t speak for other team’s efforts, but if the Rangers wanted to tank, they could have very easily done so and been far worse off than freaking above 500.
I don’t t think he’s talking about the Rangers, they are trying. I think he’s talking about other teams like the Orioles and Royals who aren’t
The Ranger Fan
Yankeedynasty,you should be happy once they get all the players healthy they will be unstoppable. They built a good club this past year.
Minor deserves a good contract and a good payday, what ever that is. There is no doubt Daniels will shop minor before all star break and fans may see minor league pitching to close out the season. The real question is has Daniels really started a rebuild or just saving money for the new ballpark, His bench players and hitting coach have saved this season so far. Yes I am a Hunter Pence fan. Real interested in how long Woody will keep starting Odor at 2nd.
Rougie is the big question… Right now, you might as well continue to play him and pray to God he figures it out. He’s streaky, we all know that. Everyone is just waiting for that month long tear that gets his number back to the 260 avg with 20-30 HR by the end of the season. It’s just not happening. Listen, I’m a Rangers Homer, but I know if by some long shot they even make a playoff run, they aren’t a complete enough team to compete for the final trophy. So, you might as well give him a full season to turn it around. If he hasn’t by the end of the year, you have no doubt in your mind that you gave him enough time.
It sure is painful to watch though. I feel bad for him.
It’s obvious he’s trying…..
The Ranger Fan
Rougned Odor , how do you get rid of someone you just gave a big contract to last year, if he continues to flounder what do you do ?
It is. He needs to sit in on whatever lessons Gallo has been getting.
If theyre being realistic about the fact they arent really a championship team regardless of the WC2 standings, they should ride out Odor at 2nd this season unless he agrees a few weeks in AAA would help.
Hes signed to a long term deal that sees him get fairly expensive next year. (3Y/37M or 4Y/47.5M) he was worth 2.5WAR in 15,16, and 18. He flopped in 17 and he is flopping this year.
If hes the 2.5WAR player that 4/47 is a good buy but if he continues to flop the 3/37 is going to be a sore spot on the books. Its not a world ender, but 12M isnt chump change on a team payroll either..
Its pretty odd to see someone go from a top 15 2B in 15/16 at 21/22 years old then have a bad year, bounce back in 2018 as a borderline top 10 2B, only to hit rock bottom again in his age 25 season.
Hes still super young BABIP suggests hes been unlucky this year, but until he maintains better plate discipline and stops pressing its gonna be a bumpy ride.
Trade him when his value is high. It will more than likely not get any higher than now. Texas needs a lot of things and I am sure a team out there will help fill the gaps, including other ML ready SPs. Texas rotation is a disaster after Minor and a bottom third farm system, Texas may as well monetize their only valuable asset (I’m assuming most FOs aren’t buying Gallo’s hot start).
Have to agree based on the glaring holes this team has even though they’ve overcome them so far. If they keep Minor, and the team hits the inevitable skids and/or Minor gets hurts, they’ve got nothing. Gotta leverage him for a significant future piece sooner rather than later.
You know what the lot of things Texas needs are…….pitching. Bats are obviously doing what they are supposed to. So don’t trade the one thing that you need.
Trade Minor for cheaper, younger, multiple SPs and maybe a RP or two… I’m not buying the Texas offense being this good. Choo, Mazara, Gallo, Andrus, Odor, Calhoun don’t strike me as long term core pieces. Or at least when they get to being close to competing w the Astros, Red Sox, Yankees or Rays. All those teams have very few holes… assuming the rangers get to the 2nd WC. They start Minor, after minor, they have nothing in the bullpen. If they win the game, they draw superior, deeper teams. Which they will have no shot. Trade minor while you can.
Trade him. Even if what he’s doing is going to continue they’re still a .500 team.
More likely he declines a bit, but he’s still really good. Is that enough though for this team?
Got to trade him. Question is how long do you think he will last? Can he keep this up until close to the trade or is this the best faith you have in him? Lot of teams wouldn’t mind him now
Lifelong Rangers fan. The injury rehab pitchers (Miller, Smyly, Volquez) have been a disaster. On one hand, I believe they have to keep Minor to anchor their rotation next year with the move to the new ballpark. On the other, all their exciting prospects are in A-ball, so their next window to legitimately contend for a division title is probably 2 years away.
All in all, it’s a good position for Texas to be in. You hold onto Minor. If you get an overwhelming offer (ex: 3 prospects from a team’s top 10 that has a strong farm — Padres, Astros, Yanks, etc) than you of course have to make the trade.
Rangers are further than 2 years away from being serious threats for contenting with the Astros within the division. Astros simply have a better core and a deeper farm than the rangers.
we will see, the Stros are going to be in an interesting postion over the next few years. True lots of young talent but the top of that rotation is gone over the next few and I bet you one of Correa, Springer is gone too. If some of the young pitching talent in the system matures, the Rangers have a shot, they already have a better offense.
“They already have a better offense”
The rangers have a better offense than the Astros? Astros offense is historically great, comparable to the 1927 Yankees based on wRC+, get out of that cave you’ve been living in. Astros are vastly superior to the rangers currently (SP, BP and lineup) and have a deeper farm… but you can wait and see if you want.
I mean, as of a few days ago (I haven’t kept up since) the Rangers were averaging the most runs per game in all of MLB. Probably what he was referring to. I don’t necessarily think the Rangers have a better lineup than the Astros, but they are performing better to this point, since the name of the game for an offense is score runs. But yes, the Astros lineup is insane and will most likely be a more productive lineup top-to-bottom at the end of the year. However, he did have a point.
Its not really my point, its a point from a Mariners beat writer, talking about his opinion that the M’s and Rangers have similar 20′, 21′ windows opening. The Stros have some decisions to make, the division is getting better and they have a ton of talent that they have pay or let walk.
stan lee the manly
They should be actively shopping him and looking for a trade right this second. His value is at a peak, and the sooner they move him the less chance he has to regress and hurt the return. The added time by trading now will also only increase the value you can get for him.
They have a shot at the playoffs, they should take it. If they’re a half game out at the trade deadline it would be a crime to deal off the top pitcher for prospects. I get that this could help them grow into a more sustainable winner, I really do, but the point of all of this is to make the playoffs. Take your shot while you have it.
I have to assume they’d hold onto him unless they’re blown away with an offer of at least one top 50 pitcher. The bats can score as many runs as they want but they’ll never get that WC spot if their staff is getting shellacked every day.
I’d love to see the Rangers win it all with this lineup just to give the finger to MLB as a whole, especially to teams with bigger payrolls, teams using analytics and teams with top-flight superstars. Then, I could enjoy next offseason watching teams try to emulate the Rangers success by giving retreads and guys coming off injuries a spot in their lineups.
The Ranger Fan
madmanTx………Totally agree with ya, tired of hearing bout some of these other teams.
The Ranger Fan
I agree with several of these post, if they have a shot still at a one game playoff they should hang in and take it, you never know what luck can strike in a one gamer, if we’re out by the all star break and someone offers a great package for minor, Example , at least 2 close to ready pitchers then jump on that trade. We desperately need starters a 1 & 2, a centerfielder and a full time catcher, if we use Gallo in center that’s all good for now. Team will have only$85 million committed next year and Daniels states he is going shopping for pitching. And a possible run at a 3 rd baseman, but who knows. It’s good to know that we have a couple decent pitchers right now and we’re not hugging the cellar.
The Ranger Fan
I would re-sign Hunter Pence for at least 2 years.
Take a look at the downeast lineup and rotation. Some of the needs you mention will be filled from within, specofically cengerfield
Take a look at the downeast lineup and rotation. Some of the needs you mention will be filled from within, specifically centerfield and probably 3B/C. The Rangers farm is underrated and really young.
You see time and time again teams holding onto guys after one good/bounceback season to increase their worth, but they need to trade him just after the all-star break so they can have their all star and trade him at his peak
Minor needs to be traded. I get that the Rangers rarely have a frontline starter but they are in no position to make grab a WC spot let alone make a deep playoff run. Their farm is one of the worst in the league and their top pitching specs have required TJ surgery. They need to flip Minor for some near ML ready specs and use the year to evaluate the young pitching they have going into 2020. They have payroll flexibility to sign a top starter this year if they want or wait til next year if the right guy isn’t there because 2021 will be the real season where they should look to being atop the division again and a Minor trade could greatly accelerate that.
Trade him ONLY for a blowout offer. Otherwise, extend him.
Why extend him? If it were the Padres then yes because they have that deep wave of prospects coming, but who does Texas have? They handed Philly all of them
I agree no extension only because the Rangers talent is both underrated and really young. But do not think that we are devoid of talent in the system, its just all 20 years old. Guys like Hans Crouse, Cole Winn, LP Martinez, Bubba Thompson and Taylor Hearn are certainly interesting.
Very true, but y’all do not have the names and hype that other clubs such as the Padres, Rays, Braves, and White Soxs just to name a few.. If Texas was in the same position as let’s say San Diego with a similar farm system, then absolutley extend him because he is a guy that the young guys can learn from
A sneaky team could be Tampa. Could build a package around deLeon/Banda
As a ranger fan im kinda torn. Were not a playoff team and even if we were to make wildcard we dont have the pitching depth to make a deep run. And is there really much difference in nonplayoff, wildcard, and 1st rd exits? But regardless of this year they need someone to anchor that rotation for next cpl years, but minors also poised to regress, prolly alot. U could trade him and take a look at some of the kids but not much overwhelming there either. Ragans and yohanders careers have most likely been torched by injuries and crouse, palumbo, and burk arent ready. I guess the best thing would be set high asking price, if someone throws cpl top 100s at u jump, but if not hold him for stability. But really dont see a wrong way to go on this one. Get prospects or hold on to lil stability
The Ranger Fan
Ricky Adams….. The only difference of the playoffs or wildcard or one game playoff is $$$$$$. Revenue from MLB for games and then revenue from concessions and merchandise and parking and sponsors during those games, it all adds up to team revenue, Players receive shares from games after the season games based on how far they get into the postseason. This is why I don’t understand tanking.
I totally agree on Texas needing some pitching,Radio here is talking free agents Cole of Houston, I wish we would go after Cole Hamels also, if the option is not picked up.
As for all our rookies,I think we have a centerfielder and a left fielder and about 5 pitchers coming in two years.