KC Royals free-agent pitcher Mike Minor never took the field in 2016 due to multiple setbacks in his rehab from shoulder surgery. Kansas City should consider converting him to the bullpen in 2017.
Mike Minor has been a starter his entire career, and even became a top-of-the-rotation arm in Atlanta in 2013. That season, the then 25-year-old Mike Minor went 13-9 with a 3.21 ERA in 204.1 innings pitched with a 8.0 K/9.
However, Minor crashed to 6-12, 4.77 ERA in 25 starts the following season as he developed shoulder problems. He underwent shoulder surgery in May 2015 to repair his torn labrum and missed the entire season. The Kansas City Royals signed him last winter, believing that he would be ready to pitch by mid June.
Instead, he suffered multiple setbacks during his minor-league rehab assignments. The KC Royals front office then shelved him for the entire season.
Minor is still under contract for the 2017 season at $4.0 million, with a $10 million mutual option for 2018 that carries a $1.25 million buyout. After his shoulder failed to come around in 2016, the Kansas City Royals should consider using him as a reliever in 2017.
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First of all, Minor’s contract is only $4.0 million. That’s a reasonable salary for a relief pitcher so the KC Royals wouldn’t be losing value. The Royals also need more bullpen depth after the 2016 pen failed to meet the prior standard of excellence that carried Kansas City to two consecutive American League pennants in 2014 and 2015.
The smart move might be to begin the season with Mike Minor as a bullpen arm. They could always stretch him out during the season if they need him in the rotation like KC did with Danny Duffy in 2016.
Starters In Waiting
Perhaps the solution to the Kansas City Royals disappointing relief pitching in 2016 is to load up the pen with starters-in-waiting like Minor and former top prospect Kyle Zimmer. Zimmer hasn’t been able to stay healthy his entire minor-league career. Perhaps pitching one inning at a time will help him get through a full season while finally providing value to the big club.
These moves would give the team eight prospective starting pitchers. General manager Dayton Moore could add a veteran depth signing this winter, or bring back Dillon Gee in Spring Training if his thoracic outlet surgery goes well. This roster construction would give Moore nine potential starters as well as loading up his bullpen.