Mike Minor lost two seasons due to shoulder issues, but he returned with a bang in 2017. Assigned to the Royals' bullpen out of camp, he saw an uptick in velocity across the board while working in shorter spurts. Minor also altered his pitch mix, more than doubling his slider usage at the expense of the fastball, which helped him add considerably to his strikeout rate (10.2 K/9). Control was Minor's calling card during his time with Atlanta, and he was good in that regard with Kansas City as well (2.6 BB/9). His overall stellar performance combined with injuries and struggles at the back end of the Royals' bullpen led to Minor working his way into the closer role by the end of the year, with the lefty earning his first six career saves. Minor will stretch back out and attempt to return to a starting role in 2018 after signing a three-year deal with the Rangers in the offseason.
Minor has reached an agreement with the Rangers and will sign pending a physical, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports. Minor declined his 2018 option with the Royals after thriving in the bullpen, opening up his free agency options. According to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, the 29-year-old will move back into a starting role for the Rangers after working out of the bullpen in Kansas City. He will be a nice boost to a Rangers starting rotation that posted a 4.66 ERA in 2017, which ranked in the bottom half of MLB.
Minor declined his option with the Royals for the 2018 season, becoming a free agent in the process, Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com reports. Although Flanagan went on to state that the Royals have interest in re-signing Minor as the club's closer, the soon-to-be 30-year-old will have other suiters following a tremendous season out of the bullpen. Minor posted a 2.55 ERA and 1.02 WHIP over 77.2 innings during his first year in a relief role, and spent the last couple of weeks in 2017 as Kansas City's main closer, saving all six of his opportunities after Sept. 15.
Minor gave up a hit and struck out one in a scoreless ninth inning en route to his sixth save of the season Saturday against the Diamondbacks. Christian Walker managed to line an 0-2 pitch into left field for a double, but Minor slammed the door on Arizona after that with three outs on seven pitches. In his six save opportunities in September, the southpaw didn't allow a run and produced a strong 8:1 K:BB. He's hoping to return to starting in 2018, but this string of ninth-inning appearances certainly boosts his stock if he returns to a relief role in 2018.
Minor fired a scoreless ninth inning en route to his fifth save of the season in Friday's 2-1 win over the Diamondbacks. He walked a batter and struck out two. Minor has notched saves in each of his last five appearances, firmly cementing himself over Scott Alexander as manager Ned Yost's preferred closing option since Kelvin Herrera was removed from the role earlier in September. While Minor's 2.58 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 10.2 K/9 over 76.2 innings in 2017 would make him a highly sought reliever when he becomes an unrestricted free agent this offseason, the 29-year-old recently suggested that he's hopeful to return to working as a starter in 2018. He carries a 4.10 ERA over his 110 career starts in the majors, all of which came with the Braves from 2010 to 2014.
Minor said he will prepare for the 2018 season as if he'll be a starter, Josh Vernier of 610 Sports reports. After spending his first five big-league campaigns as a starting pitcher, Minor was shifted to the bullpen prior to this season in an attempt to keep him healthy and maximize his output. It worked, as he compiled an impressive 2.62 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 85:21 K:BB in 75.2 innings and -- barring any setbacks -- will head into the offseason injury-free for the first time in five years. With a full offseason ahead of him, Minor will stretch out as a starter, though he said he's also open to returning to the bullpen. He owns a 4.10 ERA in 110 big-league starts over his career. There is a $10 million mutual option for Minor and the Royals in 2018 and a $1.25 million buyout, so it is unclear if he will be a free agent or return to Kansas City for one more season.