MLB Trade Rumors: Mike Minor, Texas Rangers starting pitcher, is “increasingly like” to be dealt by the July 31 trade deadline, with the Milwaukee Brewers and Philadelphia Phillies mentioned as among the most interested teams, per Jon Morosi on Twitter.
The Mike Minor situation is a major storyline right now, with Jeff Passan saying in his column today that the Rangers and the Arizona Diamondbacks (who could move Robbie Ray) could be buy-and-sell teams should they decide that they are not realistic playoff contenders this year. Passan notes that the Rangers are opening a new park in 2020, and what to be competitive rather in the throes of a rebuild as part of that, which could mean seeing the Rangers deal Minor but also go out and acquire a controllable player or two at the same time.
The fact that MLB has just one trade deadline now — July 31, 2019 — means that teams have to commit earlier than in past years, when you could have waiver deals up through August 31, 2019. While the Rangers have been a great story this year, staying above .500 and making noise in a year they were expected to be a non-factor, they are currently 4 back in the Wild Card and 8.5 games back of the Houston Astros. There’s likely to be high demand for Minor, who has pitched like a Cy Young candidate this year and who is under contract for a reasonable amount for 2020, as well as a market for outfielder Hunter Pence, who was named to the All Star team as part of a resurgent 2019 campaign, and whose departure would open up a roster spot for Willie Calhoun.
The Brewers make a lot of sense as a buyer, given they’ve been aggressive in the last year-plus, are just 2.5 games back of the Cubs in the N.L. Central despite a 49-47 record, and are a half-game back of Philadelphia for a Wild Card berth. The Phillies are well back of the Atlanta Braves, making it harder for them to justify an aggressive buy, though they are in the thick of the Wild Card race. And both Milwaukee and Philadelphia are looking to contend through 2020, making Minor, who wouldn’t be a rental, attractive.
The Atlanta Braves are the team that we have been hoping would decide to get aggressive for starting pitching, as they have Max Fried and Kevin Gausman on the injured list and Mike Foltynewicz in the minors in the midst of a bad season, and a deep, strong farm system. 20 year old AA centerfielder Christian Pache would be the dream target, but he’s almost certainly unavailable from the Braves — however, they do have another 20 year old center fielder in AA, Drew Waters, who is seen as a top 50 prospect, and who is slashing .335/.378/.511 (although with an alarming 105 strikeouts in 392 plate appearances). Atlanta is also laden with upper level starting pitching prospects that would interest the Rangers.
The New York Yankees are the other team that would seem to be a good fit, if Minor went on the block. J.A. Happ, the team’s big free agent signing this offseason, has been a disappointment, and Luis Severino is expected to be out through August. In James Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka, they have two quality pitchers who are going to have ongoing questions about their ability to stay healthy. And in Deivi Garcia, they have a young, talented, but under-sized starting pitcher who has jumped up to AAA while racking up insane K rates. Garcia and Clint Frazier, a righthanded hitting defensively-challenged outfielder, would seem to be prime trade chips the Yankees could use if they get aggressive.
The trade deadline is exactly two weeks away. Buckle up, because there’s going to be a whole lot of smoke around the Rangers the next fourteen days.