Both the Rangers and left-hander Mike Minor are interested in continuing their relationship beyond the end of the 2020 season, when Minor’s current contract expires. Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that that “preliminary extension talks” have already taken place between the team and Minor’s representatives, though more substantive negotiations are likely to wait until the offseason.
Minor’s future in Arlington was of great speculation in the weeks and months leading up to the trade deadline, as the veteran southpaw drew plenty of interest from teams in need of rotation help. The Yankees, Twins, and Phillies were just a few of the teams known to be linked to Minor’s trade market, and all of the buzz not only seemed to irritate Minor, but also seemed to impact his performance. Minor posted a 6.59 ERA over five starts in July, as opposed to a 2.40 ERA over 112 2/3 IP from March through June, and a perfect 0.00 ERA in 15 August frames.
It still isn’t out of the question that Texas eventually trades Minor this winter, perhaps depending on the tenor of the extension talks. But since GM Jon Daniels already made the call to keep Minor since the Rangers were still on the outskirts of the wild card race, there’s also a solid argument to be made for keeping him in the fold both in 2020 and beyond.
Minor has been tremendous since signing his three-year, $28MM deal in the 2017-18 offseason, following up a strong performance in 2018 with an All-Star showing in 2019. He has a 2.90 ERA, 9.2 K/9, and 3.12 K/BB rate over 155 total frames, with a 175 ERA+ that leads all of baseball. While ERA predictors (3.97 FIP, 4.38 xFIP, 4.30 SIERA) aren’t a fan and he is getting a lot of strand rate help (85.7%), Minor’s .291 wOBA is a near-perfect match of his .290 xwOBA. Looking at the Statcast numbers, Minor is in the top one percent of all pitchers in terms of fastball spin, which thus also explains why batters have been unable to square up much against him — Minor is in the 90th percentile in both exit velocity and hard-hit ball rate.
The big question going forward, of course, is whether Minor can continue to sustain this performance. Minor turns 32 in December, so an extension would begin with his age-33 season, and teams have been increasingly wary about signing any player (pitcher or hitter) into their 30’s. Nonetheless, the Rangers would surely appreciate gaining some extra stability beyond just Lance Lynn amidst an overall unstable rotation mix, while Minor would likely prefer an extension rather than risk a potential downturn in 2020 and an uncertain trip back into the free agent market.