Kansas City Royals shore up starting rotation with Mike Minor signing

The Kansas City Royals ended their weekend by signing LHP Mike Minor to a two-year deal.

The 2020-2021 MLB offseason hasn’t started out with much noise, but the Kansas City Royals are keeping the early run on veteran starting pitching free agent signings going by inking 32-year-old lefty Mike Minor to a two-year deal on Sunday night.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic was the first to break the news just before midnight.

Mike Minor isn’t the biggest free agent splash on the market, but for a young Kansas City Royals team looking to take advantage of an expanded playoff field and compete for a playoff spot in the near future, shoring up their starting rotation with a veteran like Minor is another step towards that goal.

Minor has experience pitching in Kansas City, going 6-6 with a career-low 2.55 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in 65 games out of the bullpen back in 2017, recently coming off a shoulder injury that kept him out all of 2016.

Since his dominant relief campaign, Minor has re-established himself as a starting pitcher in the big leagues, including back-to-back seasons with the Texas Rangers in 2018 and 2019 in which he was worth a combined 6.9 Wins Above Replacement.

As recently as 2019, Minor was an All-Star with the Rangers and finished 8th in American League Cy Young voting.

The 2020 season was a bit of a struggle for Minor. The lefty went 0-5 with a 5.60 ERA in seven starts with the Rangers, but turned things around slightly after being moved to Oakland at the trade deadline.

In five appearances with Oakland, Minor struck out 32% of hitters and posted a 1.03 WHIP and .197 average against. He also pitched 3.2 scoreless innings in Oakland’s short playoff run.

Minor’s surface-level numbers weren’t great last season, but his FIP did sit around his career-average as a starter and he made notable improvements as the season progressed. If the Kansas City Royals get the version of Mike Minor close to 2018 or 2019 and can build on his 2020 late-season improvements, the Royals have themselves a reliable backend of the rotation option.

For now, the Royals could enter the 2021 season with a starting rotation of Brady Singer, Danny Duffy, Kris Bubic, Brad Keller, and Minor, which would be a solid starting group to make some noise in the AL Central.

With prospects like Jackson Kowar, Asa Lacy, and Daniel Lynch knocking on the door, the Royals could eventually move Duffy to the bullpen to make room for one of their top pitching prospects later in the summer, making this rotation an even more impressive group.

Signing Mike Minor won’t move the needle in a big direction for the Kansas City Royals, but it does show that they may be willing to spend a little cash this offseason to put together a ballclub that will be a .500 team in 2021, with higher goals in mind for 2022.