After letting Wade Miley go via waivers and trading Sonny Gray to the Twins in the offseason (amid other cost-cutting moves), the Reds attempted to restock the rotation in a trade that sent reliever Amir Garrett to the Royals in exchange for veteran southpaw Mike Minor. Not long after the trade, the Reds revealed that Minor was battling some shoulder issues and expected to begin the season on the injured list, though skipper David Bell suggested at the time that the shoulder soreness was not overly concerning.
Minor went on a rehab assignment last week, but the lefty suffered a setback in his first appearance with Double-A Chattanooga. Per The Athletic’s C. Trent Rosecrans, Minor has now been shut down for the time being and returned to Cincinnati. He’s back into a rest-and-rehab program and will need to build arm strength back up whenever he’s cleared to begin throwing. At present, there’s no timetable for Minor’s return.
It’s a depth blow to a Reds rotation that is also without top starter Luis Castillo, who’s also been sidelined thanks to shoulder issues. Castillo’s work early in camp was delayed by shoulder soreness, but he’s said to be healthy now and is throwing to hitters as he ramps up toward a rehab assignment of his own. The Reds have previously expressed optimism that Castillo could return late this month. With both Castillo and Minor shelved, Cincinnati has been deploying Tyler Mahle, Reiver Sanmartin, Vladimir Gutierrez and top prospects Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo as its starting five.
The setback to Minor figures to only further rile a fanbase that wasn’t happy with the Reds’ offseason direction. Cincinnati let Miley go on waivers to spare a $1MM buyout on a $10MM club option they weren’t going to exercise — the Cubs claimed him and happily picked that option up — but months later took on about $7.3MM in salary to acquire Minor on the heels of a less-productive season. Of course, Cincinnati couldn’t have known early in the offseason that they’d manage to successfully jettison the remaining three years and $35MM on Eugenio Suarez’s contract. The money saved in the Jesse Winker/Suarez trade with the Mariners surely played a role in the Reds’ decisions to acquire Minor and sign free agents Tommy Pham, Donovan Solano (also currently on the injured list) and Hunter Strickland.
Minor, 34, is in the second guaranteed season of a two-year, $18MM contract originally signed with Kansas City. The Reds hold a $13MM club option on him with a $1MM buyout, though the Royals agreed to pay that buyout as part of the trade. Over the past two seasons, Minor has a 5.18 ERA in 215 1/3 innings, albeit with much more palatable strikeout and walk rates (23.2% and 6.7%, respectively).