Mike Minor Likely To Throw For Teams Later This Month


Free-agent lefty Mike Minor implied back in September that he was considering retirement following an injury-shortened 2022 campaign in Cincinnati. However, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes reports that Minor feels good after spending the offseason throwing in preparation for the 2023 season and is likely to host a throwing session for teams later this month. Minor had told Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer back on Sept. 24, “I’m not closing the door, but it’s barely cracked,” when asked about whether he’d return for a 12th Major League season.

Minor, 35, was traded from the Royals to the Reds not long before the 2022 season but spent the first two months of the year on the injured list due to shoulder troubles. Following his activation in early June, he’d go on to make 19 starts for Cincinnati, but the season was generally a struggle. Minor’s 90.4 mph average fastball was a career-worst mark, and while his 8.8% walk rate was only slightly higher than the league average, it also represented the highest rate of the typically precise lefty’s career. Minor’s 16.7% strikeout rate, too was a career-worst. In his 98 innings with the Reds, Minor scuffled to a 6.06 ERA while allowing an average of 2.2 home runs per nine frames.

It was a far cry from Minor’s peak years, the last of which came in 2019 when he tossed 208 1/3 innings of 3.59 ERA ball with the Rangers. Even as Minor’s bottom-line results suffered in 2020-21 (5.18 ERA), he maintained a sharp 23.2% strikeout rate, 6.7% walk rate and 10.9% swinging-strike rate. The Reds were surely intrigued by those traits when they acquired him, but each trended in the wrong direction during what now looks like it’ll be his lone season in Cincinnati.

Discouraging as the past three seasons have been for Minor, the lefty enjoyed a nice peak from 2011-19 when he pitched to a 3.82 ERA while showing the ability to miss bats and limit walks. Minor has long had a knack for suppressing hard contact, and even through all of last season’s struggles, the 88.2 mph average exit velocity he yielded and the 34.9% hard-hit rate were both lower than the respective league averages of 88.6 mph and 38.2%. Minor’s issue wasn’t so much an excess of hard contact as it was that when he did yield hard contact, it was particularly damaging.

Minor is one of a dwindling number of experienced big league starters left on the market for teams seeking rotation depth. Michael Wacha is perhaps the last remaining free-agent starter who could command a multi-year deal, but Minor joins the likes of Chris Archer, Dylan Bundy, Michael Pineda, Anibal Sanchez and Chase Anderson as seasoned alternatives who could be had on lower-risk arrangements.

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