Mike Minor is traded by July 31 for at least one top 100 prospect
It is completely reasonable to assume Mike Minor will get dealt sometime this season given he was in some trade demand this past offseason. Also, the Rangers’ likely position in the standings may make way for a trade. The boldness of this prediction is that the Rangers will get a clear top prospect in return for Minor for three key reasons:
1. Minor has a bit of a breakout season
Mike Minor is primed for a bit of a breakout type season as he builds off the success of his last one. As Minor himself put it, he believes he can be an ace. The lefty finished last season with a 3.7 WAR in 157 IP. That’s a higher WAR per IP than James Paxton last year and Paxton’s last two years averaged together. Paxton was traded by the Mariners to the Yankees this past offseason and the Mariners received the Yankees’ top pitching prospect, Justus Sheffield, as part of the return package. Sheffield is currently the #31 prospect in baseball and the Mariners’ top prospect according to mlb.com’s prospect rankings.
2. There will be great demand for starting pitching
One of the effects of the numerous contract extensions over the last couple of weeks for starting pitchers (Sale, Verlander, DeGrom, Snell, etc.) is that it has thinned out the starting pitching free agent market for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 offseasons. There will still be good starters available over the next couple of offseasons barring any additional extensions. Gerrit Cole (’19-’20 free agent) and Madison Bumgarner (’19-’20) will be available, along with Cole Hamels (’19-’20), Rick Porcello (’19-’20), Trevor Bauer (’20-’21), James Paxton (’20-’21), Marcus Stroman (’20-’21), and a few others.
None of these listed except for Stroman are expected to be on the trade block come July. There is a chance Bauer or Bumgarner could be, but it is unlikely. Therefore, the starting pitching trade market could be very thin for teams looking to add on for their playoff push. This could drive up the price for someone like Mike Minor.
3. Pitching Role Flexibility
Mike Minor had incredible success as a Kansas City Royal working out of the pen in 2017. Given his comfortability in a relief role, it is possible a team could acquire Minor knowing he could be in the middle or at the back-end of a great rotation, and move to the pen with ease come the postseason if necessary. This is something a few teams have done with success like the Los Angeles Dodgers (Kenta Maeda, for example) and even the Boston Red Sox last year with Nathan Eovaldi.
Look for Mike Minor to have a solid season and for the Texas Rangers to shop him come July. Given the likely factors listed above, my bold prediction is Texas will trade him and get at least one top 100 prospect as part of the package and perhaps even a top 50. Possible landing spots will depend on a team’s position in the playoff race, but fits could include the Dodgers, Cardinals, Brewers, Astros, Twins, Red Sox, Braves, and Phillies.