With less than two months standing in the way of the non-waiver deadline, the Red Sox are beginning to ramp-up their trade efforts.
With a 27-34 record, it’s no surprise that the Kansas City Royals are expected to be major sellers on August 1. One of the many pieces that they are likely to move is left-handed reliever Mike Minor, who is being scouted by several contending teams, one of which are the Boston Red Sox tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
Minor is in the midst of his first season as a reliever and has thrived in the new role. In 32 relief innings for the Royals, he owns a 2.25 ERA, 2.37 FIP, 1.00 WHIP, with 9.3 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9. While he has been used against both lefties and righties, he’s excelled in left-on-left matchups, holding opposing batters to a .125/.205/.175 slash line with a 34% strikeout rate.
Once a longtime starter for the Atlanta Braves, Minor has re-emerged in 2017 after missing the last two full seasons with arm issues. He’s currently in the second and final season of his contract with the Royals and is owed the remainder of his $4 million salary. In addition, his contract carries a $10 million team option or $1.25 million buy-out for the 2018 season.
As a starter, Minor made 110 starts with the Braves from 2010-2014, with a 4.10 ERA and 7.8 K/9. Stretched out over multiple innings, his fly-ball profile proved susceptible to the long ball as he struggled to keep opposing batters inside the ballpark. Since transitioning to the bullpen he’s seen a vast improvement in his HR/FB and HR/9 rate, as well as an impressive jump in velocity. According to FanGraphs data, his average fastball velocity has been 94 mph in 2017 after sitting at 90.5 mph in 2014.
2017 has also seen him more than double his usage of his slider, throwing it 37% of the time. Opposing batters are hitting just .171 against it with a 56.3% ground ball rate and nine strikeouts in 46 plate appearances.
As far as his potential place on the Red Sox goes, Minor would be the third lefty in the bullpen. Fernando Abad and Robby Scott are currently on the roster and have fared reasonably well this season. Scott has been the presumed left-handed specialist, but if Minor’s success proves sustainable he may not be needed to fill a specialized role for the club.
The Red Sox staff has been plagued by injuries this season, and while Minor carries no health guarantees, he would provide some much-needed stability. Then, of course, there is the possibility that he could return to starting if needed, though that possibility is highly speculative.