Matt Bush apparently won’t be the only reliever trying to transition into the starting rotation for the Rangers in 2018.
The club has agreed to a contract with free agent left-hander Mike Minor, an industry source said Monday night, confirming a report from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal tweeted a deal was in place pending a physical. Terms of the deal are unclear, but it was likely Minor, who spent last season with Kansas City, would get at least three years in excess of $7 million per year, according to most projections.
Minor, who turns 30 on Dec. 26, went 6-6 with a 2.55 ERA in 77.2 innings in 2017 after missing the previous two seasons with left shoulder problems and, ultimately, surgery. Before that, however, he had pitched as a starter with Atlanta in the National League. He pitched a career high 204 innings in 2013 and had a 3.21 ERA. He had been open to returning to the rotation.
The Rangers have shown a willingness to convert relievers to starters and are planning to do so with Bush this spring. Sources said the Rangers plan is to also allow Minor to return to the rotation.
And, if the Rangers plan is to try to woo Shohei Ohtani with a six-man rotation idea, the Minor signing dovetails nicely. Given his injury history and the number of innings he pitched in 2017, Minor’s innings will likely have to be monitored. In a six-man rotation, every starter would get at least five days of rest between outings.
The Minor agreement is a huge move for the Rangers’ ability to be flexible this winter. While Minor’s preference is to start, an industry source said he is open to also pitching in relief again. If the Rangers were to sign Ohtani and another top free agent pitcher, perhaps Alex Cobb or Lance Lynn, the club might have the option of either shifting Minor or Bush back to the bullpen to help shore up that need. The Rangers did act to reinforce the bullpen Monday by agreeing to a one-year deal with Tony Barnette worth $1.5 million.
The Rangers have been incredibly busy on the pitching front this winter. In addition to Barnette, the Rangers also signed starter Doug Fister to a one-year deal worth $4 million and traded for Ronald Herrera from the New York Yankees. He could be an optionable depth possibility in case of injury to another.