The Texas Rangers look fully entrenched as sellers in this year’s trade market. What is Mike Minor, their top asset, worth to a buyer though?
It’s been an unfortunate week for the Texas Rangers. Following the All Star break, the Rangers were hitting a crucial part of their season as they looked to climb their way back into the AL Wild Card race. A successful run could prompt the front office into buying possibly, but at the minimum, holding onto their assets to gear up for the 2020 season and the opening of Globe Life Field. A poor run, could force the club’s hand, leading to a sell off of some of the team’s more desirable pieces, mainly, Mike Minor.
Minor has had a resurgence of epic proportions this year, becoming statistically, one of the most valuable starting pitchers in baseball. Through 20 starts, Minor has amassed a 6.1 pitching WAR, the highest mark in all of the MLB according to Baseball Reference. His 2.86 ERA is on pace for a career best and his FIP of 4.09, while not among AL leaders, is nothing to scoff at either. Where a lot of Minor’s value stems from though, is his extremely favorable contract. Minor is under contract through the 2020 season and for a salary under $10 million. Any contender that brings him in would essentially be getting a number 2 or 3 guy, who’s putting up ace stats, for this year’s playoff run and an entire season next year.
All this begs the question though, what kind of value does that equal to a buyer? While Minor is no doubt, one of the top starting pitchers to potentially get dealt this summer his name isn’t the one that gets talked about the most. Part of this is due to Minor’s history, which while consistent and quality, isn’t as awe-inspiring as Madison Bumgarner or Marcus Stroman. And despite being one of the top pitchers in baseball for nearly a year now, dating back to last season’s All-Star break, there’s still some hesitancy that he will regress to his average.
As of now, statistically, there’s an argument to be made that he is the best starting pitcher on the market that is likely to be traded and he’s under control for another season. Even if you feel that his current numbers are unsustainable for another year and a half, he still should net Texas some quality, impact prospects.
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Teams that have been noted with interest in Minor include the Yankees, Braves, Brewers and Phillies with more teams, such as the Astros and Padres fitting the profile of a potential suitor. The Braves and Padres would be the organizations with the best prospect pool to get a deal done. The Astros, Yankees and Brewers no doubt have the pieces to give Texas quality young talent. For the Phillies, they’d likely try to do a quantity over quality approach to a trade, lacking top-end depth, but with enough to get a move done. However, what while we at Nolan Writin’ have our prospect wishlist, here’s looking at you Drew Waters (ATL), it doesn’t necessarily mean the market values Minor in the same way.
For Texas to be prompted into dealing Mike Minor, I’d imagine they’d want to net a core package involving a couple of MLB Top 100 prospects, one of which is in or around the Top 50. Want is the operative word though. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News discussed Minor’s value on the podcast, “Ballzy”, alongside Kevin Sherrington. He compared Minor to the deal that Texas made with the Dodgers back in 2017 that sent ace, Yu Darvish, to LA for highly-touted prospect, Willie Calhoun. Darvish, at the time, was a pretty consensus #1 starter but possibly a half-tier below a true “ace”. However, Darvish also was on an expiring deal. He netted a deal surrounding slugger, Willie Calhoun, who was a MLB Top 50 Prospect at the time. It’s reasonable to me to think Minor brings more value to the table that Darvish considering he’s way outperforming Darvish from 2017, and is a controllable starter.
Grant went on to note that the Rangers could look for a top 3 prospect in another organization’s ranks, along with a top 10 organizational prospect, and at least one more player. That, in my interpretation, is a Top 100 guy, plus another impact player and another MLB-backup caliber player.
While that estimation should be encouraging to Rangers’ fans, Dan Szymborski at Fangraphs put out an article today in which he made a hypothetical deal between Texas and the Yankees. Much to my surprise, the return package for the Rangers didn’t include any of the Yankees top prospects, nor Clint Frazier, who is likely to be on the move this summer. Szymborski had Minor heading to New York in exchange for RHP Clarke Schmidt and RHP Albert Abreu, ranked by Fangraphs as the #11 and #13 prospects in the Yanks’ organization respectively. While both figure to be big league starters at some point, neither would likely crack the top 3 in a rotation with Abreu even tipped to possibly be a reliever long-term. That’s a far cry from the two Top 100 prospects I think Texas should be asking for.
In my mind, any deal that Texas is willing to make for Minor has to force them into a deal. While the Rangers should ask for a Top 50, Top 100, and bonus prospect, I think that’s a little steep. I’d consider the deal a win if Texas can next a prospect around the MLB Top 50, another prospect that would be in their organization Top 10 as well as one or two more prospects that figure to have a shot at becoming big leaguers at some point. I’d also expect the Rangers to push hard for players who are within a year or two of the Majors and fit in with their timeline more.