Kansas City Royals: Mike Minor Declines Option and Becomes Free Agent

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 24: Mike Minor /

In an unsurprising move, Mike Minor has reportedly declined his mutual option with the Kansas City Royals for 2018. That adds Minor to the free agent pool. Here’s what the decision means.

On Thursday, the Kansas City Royals had eight players officially become free agents. Now, it appears a ninth player has joined the group.

According Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com, Mike Minor has declined his mutual option with the club for 2018. The option — worth $10 million — comes with a $1.25 million buyout. In theory, he isn’t going to find a team that will pay him $10 million in 2018. But this decision is about the additional years, particularly with the uncertainty of how Minor will perform next season.

For those reasons, it always seemed this decision was a foregone conclusion. Minor revitalized his career in 2017, making the move from starter to reliever due to shoulder injuries that caused him to miss all of 2015 and 2016. Last year, he went 6-6 with six saves, a 2.55 ERA and 1.02 WHIP.

In February 2016, he signed with the Kansas City Royals on a two-year deal with the mutual option for a third. According to Spotrac, Minor earned $2 million during that lost 2016. He made up for it with a stellar 2017, during which his salary totaled $4 million. For comparison, that’s half the amount of money Joakim Soria netted this past season.

What’s Next for Minor?

This winter is likely Minor’s last chance to earn a big contract. The left-hander will turn 30 in December, meaning he’s at the perfect age to earn a solid four-year contract. Assuming 2017 wasn’t a fluke, Minor should be above-average at least the next two or three seasons, which would justify a deal through 2021.

The market for Minor will be one of the most intriguing of the offseason, as MLB Trade Rumors’ Steve Adams points out. It’s possible a desperate team sees him having the ability to rejoin the rotation with the fallback plan of putting him in the bullpen. More likely, though, there will be several teams intrigued about having Minor in a closer or setup role. Now, obviously, the distinction will go a long in determining his compensation.

Some teams are hesitant to stick left-handers at the backend of the bullpen. But Minor, likely due to his background as a starter, has shown an ability to get right-handed hitters out at a consistent rate. Righties hit just .223 off Minor in 2017, although all five homers he allowed were to right-handed batters. Conversely, lefties managed a mere .163 batting average and just three extra-base hits (all doubles) in 92 at-bats.

Will the Royals Re-Sign Minor?

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Given the struggles Kelvin Herrera, Brandon Maurer and Soria had last season, it’s understandable to wonder whether the Kansas City Royals should attempt to re-sign Minor as their closer. A decision like that, first and foremost, will be determined by the extent of the rebuild.

A complete teardown leaves no room for Minor; a we’re-still-going-to-compete restocking could lead to a return. The problem is the front office seemingly is playing this whole thing by ear. A lot of reports seem to indicate everything hinges on Eric Hosmer. If he leaves, the team takes the former option. If he stays, the Royals take the latter.

Either way, it seems unlikely Minor will be back in Kansas City next season. For the record, Flanagan mentioned there have been internal discussions about re-signing Minor. Regardless, he won’t earn the kind of money other former KC closers will this winter. Wade Davis and Greg Holland could both get $50-plus million deals. Minor should aim for a little more than half of that. If he does earn that much, it almost certainly won’t be with the Kansas City Royals.

Next: Where Will Royals Free Agents Play Next Season?

What do you think? Would the Royals be wise to re-sign Minor, or should they let him walk? Let us know your thoughts in the comments and on social media.