The Rangers enter 2020 with their starting rotation heralded as the unquestioned strength of the roster. The additions of Corey Kluber, Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles this winter, the top of the Rangers rotation suddenly doesn’t need to be absolutely perfect every time out to keep the team’s head above the water. Even with that pressure, Mike Minor and Lance Lynn were two of the best pitchers in baseball for Texas in 2019. Both are back for 2020 and it’s hard not to be excited about a Texas rotation with more depth than possibly ever.
2020 will be Minor’s third season in a Rangers uniform. Here are two questions surrounding the 32-year-old lefty in 2020…
Will health finally creep back into the equation?
Minor came to Texas in 2018 coming off a season of being a shut-down relief pitcher for the Kansas City Royals in 2017. That season was his first after missing all of 2015 and 2016 with a long recovery from a torn labrum he suffered while pitching for the Atlanta Braves. The Rangers took a very conservative approach to bringing Minor back as a starter in 2018 and took various precautions that limited him to 28 starts and 157 innings. The leash was unhooked in 2019 and Minor had 32 starts and 200+ innings for the second time in his career (2013).
While the times have been good on the health front for Minor the past two seasons, one has to be slightly concerned with the potential for something to pop up for a 32-year-old starting pitcher with a major injury in his history. Perhaps with the Rangers perceived starting pitching depth this season, Minor will be able to take an extra day or two of rest anytime he needs it for some soreness in 2020.
Will he be around all season (and beyond)?
In both of Minor’s two seasons (and offseasons) in Texas, his name has been floated around as a trade chip as the Rangers have been in the midst of a rebuild. Jon Daniels and the front office signed Minor to an incredibly team-friendly deal at just three years/$28 million, and contending teams have been salivating for the opportunity to get quality starting pitching at a price like that.
While the trade rumors have blown strongly, there have also been frequent whispers that both Minor and the Rangers would be very open to an extension to keep him in Texas beyond 2020. A contract for a 32-year-old starting pitcher who is incredibly effective, but not quite a total star-level ace is quite tricky to figure out.
If the Rangers are well out of the playoff race by July and a seemingly unlikely extension isn’t agreed to by then, it would be shocking to see the Rangers not deal the final few months of Minor’s contract for some prospects. With Lance Lynn, Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles all for sure inked for 2020 and Corey Kluber with a team option, the Rangers would likely be comfortable with promoting someone like Kolby Allard or a similar level triple A pitcher back into the major league starting rotation for the final couple months of 2019.
A trio of Minor, Lynn and a revamped Corey Kluber could be what takes the Rangers from mediocrity to contention in 2020. There also is an alternate reality where all three could be on another team after the trade deadline if Texas struggles mightily in the first half of the season. Despite being an All-Star in 2019, Mike Minor will still need to prove some doubters wrong in 2020.
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