Drafted seventh overall in 2009 by the Atlanta Braves, Minor was a starting pitcher for parts of five seasons with the big league club, four of which were unremarkable but one (2013) which was actually quite good. In that 2013 campaign, he logged 204.2 innings, 181 strikeouts, a 3.21 ERA, and a 3.64 xFIP en route to a solid 3.3 fWAR. Soon afterwards, career-threatening shoulder issues emerged and caused him to miss the entirety of 2015 and most of 2016 before the Kansas City Royals signed him to a minor league deal. In 2017, he pitched 77.2 quality innings out of the bullpen at the major league level, quality enough that the Rangers decided to make him a member of their starting rotation in the following season, which some who were unaware of his pre-Kansas City history probably considered a bit puzzling.
The early returns on what was a somewhat risky and potentially costly investment yielded strong results, especially for a man who had not started a major league game in close to four years. He ranked 37th in fWAR among starters with at least 150 innings pitched, which put him in pretty decent company:
Stats provided by FanGraphs
When accounting for the fact that Minor’s career-best 2013 slotted him just four spots higher despite pitching 47.2 more innings, the case can be made that even his micromanaged 2018 workload may have been even more impressive. The risk of the contract has almost evaporated entirely as well. After signing a three-year deal for $28 million, he has already delivered $24 million of value with just a season and change under his belt. A combination of his encouraging 2018 and the Rangers’ relative lack of pitching depth helped the 31-year-old Minor earn the starting nod for 2019’s Opening Day, which, no matter how extreme the dearth of talent may be, is quite meaningful. To be able to say that you had been the ace of a Major League Baseball team when all is said and done (which, barring an injury to a teammate, is usually implied by that honor) puts you in the company of very few people, and it is probably a pretty neat thing to have on a resume. Read the rest of this entry »