A’s acquire southpaw Mike Minor on trade deadline day

When you first look at Mike Minor’s numbers this season, they are rather unimpressive.

He’s 0-5 with 5.60 ERA, 1.36 WHIP and 35/13 K/BB ratio in 35.1 innings this season, but the A’s clearly see something they like in the southpaw as they acquired him from the Rangers on Monday morning, about 3.5 hours before the 1 p.m. PT trade deadline. Oakland sent two players to be named later to Texas to complete the deal.

According to Sports Illustrated’s John Hickey, the two PTBNL are 2019 draftees outfielder Marcus Smith and third baseman Dustin Harris, and the Rangers will pay half of Minor’s $1.4 million salary this season while the A’s will send Texas $133,000 in international slot money.

If you look at Minor’s 2019 season there’s reason for optimism. He made his first all-star team and even got some Cy Young votes after going 14-10 with a 3.59 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 200/68 K/BB ratio in 208.1 innings.

Minor spent the first five seasons of his career in the Atlanta Braves rotation before shoulder surgery forced him to miss the 2015-16 seasons. But he returned to the bigs in 2017 as a dominant reliever for the Kansas City Royals, racking up 88 strikeouts in 77.2 innings with a 2.55 ERA.

No matter where Minor’s been, he’s been able to rack up strikeouts, as he totes a 8.1 K/9 ratio for his career. But this year he’s giving up more homers than he ever has, 1.8 per 9 innings, as he’s allowed seven in seven starts. Minor is a four-pitch guy, who relies mainly on his fastball (44%), slider (25%) and changeup (24%) while sneaking in the occasional curveball (7%). But he’s also experienced a dip in his velocity this year (90.6 mph average fastball) down from his 2019 (92.6 mph) and 2018 (92.8 mph) averages as a starter.

The A’s already have five starters with Jesús Luzardo, Sean Manaea, Mike Fiers, Chris Bassitt and Frankie Montas, but Montas hasn’t looked the same since having a mid-August start delayed due to back tightness. In his three starts since, he hasn’t reached the sixth inning, giving up 18 runs in 9.2 innings over that span. Perhaps Minor’s addition can give the A’s and Montas time to figure out what’s going on before the playoffs.

Minor joins second baseman Tommy La Stella as the new A’s deadline acquisitions, but there’s still time for the front office. I can’t see the team doing much else more than perhaps picking up a reliever, but do you really want to mess with the bullpen right now? And with A.J. Puk reportedly making progress, he could be an electric bullpen arm to add for the stretch run.

While Minor’s struggles with the longball and overall lack of consistency this year bring cause for pause, he’s coming off his best start of the year, as he just held the MLB-best Dodgers scoreless for six innings on Friday. 

It will be interesting to see how much the A’s eventually give up for the 32-year-old Minor, who is a free agent at the end of the year, but for now it seems like a prudent move for the weakest part of the team — the starting rotation.