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Royals sign Mike Minor to Two-Year Deal

Update 12/1/2020: ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported Tuesday afternoon that Mike Minor’s deal with the Royals will equal $18MM over a the two years and includes a previously unreported $13MM club option for 2023 with a $1MM buyout.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic broke down the structure of the payout:

Rosenthal also reported that Minor has $50K incentives for reaching 180 and 200 IP in 2021 and 2022.

11/30/2020:

In the first multi-year deal of the offseason, the Kansas City Royals have signed Mike Minor to a two-year deal, pending Minor passing a physical. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic was the first to report the signing late on November 29. The amount Minor will be paid over the two years is still unknown.

This will be Minor’s second stint with the Royals. In 2016, Minor signed a deal similar to the Padres-Mike Clevinger extension announced earlier this month (Clevinger needed Tommy John surgery), as Minor had missed all of 2016 recovering from surgery and only pitched in the second year of his deal.

Minor’s 2017 season with the Royals was different from his other eight major league seasons in that he was used exclusively out of the bullpen. Over 77 ⅔ innings, he posted 10.20 Strikeouts per 9 innings (K/9), 0.58 Home Runs Allowed per 9 innings (HR/9), 6.3% Home Run per Fly Ball rate (HR/FB), and a 2.55 Earned Run Average (ERA); a career-best in all four categories.

After that, Minor would sign a three-year, $28MM deal with the Texas Rangers, in which he would return to a starting pitching role. From 2018-2019, Minor started exactly 60 games for the Rangers, logging 365 ⅓ innings pitched. 2019 was especially good for Minor, as he had a 3.59 ERA and a career-best Left on Base Percentage (LOB%) at 80.3%, leading to a career-high 4.1 FanGraphs WAR (fWAR).

After two good seasons with the Rangers, Minor regressed in the COVID shortened 2020 season. He started 7 games for the Rangers, logging just 35 ⅓ innings with a 5.60 ERA, 4.89 Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP), 4.61 Expected FIP (xFIP), and a 16.7% HR/FB rate.

On August 31, 2020, Minor was traded to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for two prospects, Outfielder Marcus Smith and First Basemen Dustin Harris, who were drafted in the 3rd and 11th rounds of the 2019 First-Year Player Draft, respectively. The remainder of the 2020 season in Green and Gold only proved to be marginally better for Minor with a 5.48 ERA, 4.89 FIP, and 4.32 xFIP.

While 2020 left much to be desired, there are definitely reasons for the Royals to be excited about the signing. Minor still boasted a fastball spin-rate in the 97th percentile of all pitchers and struck out 9.85 batters per 9 innings, the second-best K/9 of his career. It is yet to be seen whether the Royals will keep Minor in a starting role or move him back to the bullpen where he saw success in 2017, but a veteran presence in spring training and the regular season for the Royals young arms could go a long way, as Kansas City boast three pitchers in the Baseball America Top 100 Prospects (Asa Lacy [38], Daniel Lynch [41], Jackson Kowar [86]).

Photo courtesy of 247sports.com

Garrett Allen

Garrett Allen is a recent college graduate from Valdosta State University and is now pursuing a Masters of Science in Strategic Sports Analytics at the California University of Pennsylvania. Born and raised in Georgia, he is an avid Braves fan and has a particular interest in prospect development.