Rangers announce three-year deal for Mike Minor: Things to know about the deal

Wednesday afternoon, the Rangers announced the previously reported deal for free agent left-handed pitcher Mike Minor as official. We're going to elaborate on this deal here for several reasons, including that it's been incredibly slow on the so-called "Hot" Stove thus far. The rest of the reasons, though, make this a far-more-intriguing deal than on the surface. 

Let's take a look at four things to know. 

The deal would be a record for a non-closing reliever

Previously, the highest average annual value of a contract for a reliever who wasn't tabbed as a team's "closer" was Andrew Miller's four-year, $36 million deal with the Yankees (since traded to the Indians, obviously). 

Minor is a lefty and is coming off an excellent season. He had a 2.55 ERA, 2.62 FIP, 1.02 WHIP and 88 strikeouts in 77 2/3 innings for the Royals. He was stingy with both hits allowed and the longball, helping him to hold opposing hitters to a slash line of .204/.262/.321. He was especially tough on lefties (.163/.228/.196), but even opposing right-handed hitters didn't have much success against him (.223/.281/.383). 

Still, 2017 marked the first season Minor had ever been a reliever and there's good depth in this relief pitching class. We've seen the emphasis on non-closing relievers in recent seasons, especially in the playoffs, so maybe this deal is an indication of a steadily-rising market for relief pitchers? 

Nah ... 

The Rangers are planning to start him

We heard reports upon signing that Minor might be a starting pitcher next season, but the Rangers actually announced in the press release that this was the plan. 

We know the Rangers could use some starting pitching, as I outlined upon their signing of fellow free agent Doug Fister and Minor has plenty of experience and some success as a starting pitcher. In five years with the Braves, Minor was 38-36 with a 4.10 ERA. In 2013, he was 13-9 with a 3.21 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 181 strikeouts in 204 2/3 innings. He was 25 that season and started to look like he was going to blossom into a mid-rotation starter. 

Then injury set in. 

The injury history makes this risky

Minor missed all of 2015 and 2016 due to a major shoulder injury that required surgery. There were labrum and rotator cuff injuries and multiple setbacks both before and after surgery. Again, he missed two entire seasons. It seemed to benefit Minor last season to be held down to a reliever workload, so as to not put extra, undue stress on the surgically-repaired shoulder. 

Obviously, there's nothing wrong with the Rangers giving Minor a chance in the rotation, but if they are hoping to stick with him all year, it's a definite risk. 

Of course ...

The impact on Ohtani might help

There's this: 

We already know the Rangers' pitch to Shohei Ohtani can include the most money (for more on all seven teams involved, we've covered that) and now they can sell him even more on sticking to a plan of five days' rest instead of the customary four days' rest in MLB. Further, that frees him up even more for playing positions or serving as a designated hitter without wearing down nearly as much as it would if he were in a five-man rotation. 

In fact, if the Rangers can land Ohtani and Minor sticks in the rotation, this six-man rotation will greatly benefit all their starters. Look at the prospective rotation, then: 

  1. Ohtani (see above)
  2. Cole Hamels (he'll be 34 next year)
  3. Minor (injury history)
  4. Martin Perez (had Tommy John surgery in 2014)
  5. Doug Fister (will be 34 next year)
  6. Matt Bush (was a reliever last year)

Sure, the Rangers could still sign someone like Alex Cobb or Andrew Cashner, but that probably just pushes Bush (or even Minor) back to the bullpen and that helps the ballclub, too. 

In all, the Minor signing is a lot more interesting than it initially appears -- or maybe we just really need more activity than a daily update on Ohtani and/or Giancarlo Stanton

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Snyder has been a baseball writer with CBS Sports since 2011. A member of the BBWAA, he's now covered the last six World Series beginning with the epic 2011 Fall Classic. The former Indiana University... Full Bio

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