DEC. 1: It’s a two-year, $18MM guarantee with a $13MM club option or a $1MM buyout for 2023, Passan tweets. It will become a mutual option if the Royals trade Minor, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports (via Twitter). The deal includes salaries of $7MM for 2021 and $10MM for 2022, and Minor could make an extra $50K for 180 and 200 innings pitched in both seasons, according to Rosenthal (on Twitter).
NOV. 29: The Royals have agreed to a deal with southpaw Mike Minor, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter link). The contract will become official when Minor passes a physical. Minor is represented by Jet Sports Management.
ESPN.com’s Jeff Passan reports that it is a multi-year pact between the two sides, with MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand adding that the contract is for two years. This tops MLBTR’s prediction of a one-year, $6MM contract for Minor, and he is now the first free agent of the 2020-21 offseason to sign a multi-year contract. We’ve already seen a fair bit of action within the pitching market, though Robbie Ray (Blue Jays), Charlie Morton and Drew Smyly (both Braves) all signed one-year deals, and Marcus Stroman (Mets) and Kevin Gausman (Giants) accepted one-year qualifying offers to remain with their former teams.
This will be Minor’s second time in a Kansas City uniform, as the left-hander previously pitched for the team in 2017. Minor actually signed with K.C. on a two-year deal prior to the 2016 season, though he missed all of 2016 recovering from the shoulder problems that also caused him to miss all of 2015. After those two lost years, Minor excelled in a relief role in 2017, posting a 2.55 ERA, 4.00 K/BB rate, and 10.2 K/9 over 77 2/3 innings out of the Royals’ bullpen.
From there, Minor went on to sign a three-year, $28MM free agent deal with the Rangers and resumed his career as a starter, displaying much of the same solid form that made him a valued member of the Braves’ rotation from 2010-14. Minor posted a 3.84 ERA over 365 1/3 innings in 2018-19, even finishing ninth in AL Cy Young Award voting during the 2019 campaign.
2020 was a much tougher experience for Minor, however, as he posted a 5.56 ERA, 3.10 K/BB rate, and 9.8 K/9 over 56 2/3 innings with the Rangers and Athletics, joining Oakland on a deal at the trade deadline. A career-high 15.7% home run rate was part of Minor’s problem, and his hard-hit percentage jumped from 30.4% in 2019 to 40.4% in 2020.
While Minor’s overall Statcast picture wasn’t pretty, he still boasted an elite fastball spin rate that put him in the 97th percentile of pitchers. ERA predictors were also a bit more sympathetic to Minor’s performance in 2020, with a 4.64 FIP, 4.50 xFIP, and 4.20 SIERA.
With those silver linings, Minor’s generally solid track record, and their prior relationship with Minor in mind, the Royals clearly felt comfortable in making a two-year commitment to a pitcher who turns 33 in December. The Royals haven’t had a winning record since their World Series-winning 2015 season, though GM Dayton Moore has stated that he expects his team to be competitive in 2021, perhaps indicating that the Royals are planning to turn the corner from their latest rebuild.
Minor will now join Danny Duffy as the veteran staples of the K.C. rotation, with Brad Keller entering his fourth MLB campaign and youngsters Brady Singer and Kris Bubic looking to build off respectable rookie seasons. Jakob Junis and Carlos Hernandez are also on hand as depth options, and noted prospects Daniel Lynch and Jackson Kowar are also likely nearing their big league debuts, so the Royals have quite a few interesting rotation options on hand. MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan also raises the intriguing possibility that Minor could be a fallback plan for the Royals at closer, since Minor performed well as a ninth-inning option for Kansas City in 2017.
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