The Texas Rangers have traded pitcher Mike Minor to the Oakland A’s for two players to be named later pending a medical review, per multiple reports.
Minor, 32, is in the final year of a 3 year, $28 million deal he signed with Texas prior to the 2018 season. The Rangers signed Minor, who had been a starter for the Atlanta Braves before being out of the majors for two years with injury issues, when he was coming off a stellar season as a reliever for the Kansas City Royals. While most teams recruiting Minor after the 2017 season wanted him as a reliever, the Rangers committed to him being a starter, which helped sway Minor to join the Rangers.
Minor was terrific in 2018 and 2019 for the Rangers, putting up a combined 11.2 bWAR with a 3.84 ERA and 4.32 FIP in 365.1 IP over 30 starts in that time. In 2019, he made the American League All Star team and finished 8th in the Cy Young balloting.
Minor has struggled in 2020, struggling with his command and seeing his velocity dip, leading to a 5.60 ERA and 4.83 FIP in 35.1 IP over 7 starts. With Minor being a free agent at season’s end and the Rangers being pretty well out of the race, the team’s options were to deal him now, or hang onto Minor with an eye towards making him a qualifying offer at the end of the year. Given Minor’s struggles and the uncertainty of the free agent market this offseason, he likely would have accepted, which would have meant a one year deal at $17-18 million for 2021. The Rangers either weren’t interested in risking that, or else preferred what they were getting from Oakland to making a qualifying offer.
Normally, players to be named later are chosen from a list, with teams spending some time scouting the potential players who could come back in the deal before making a final decision. In 2020, however, COVID-19 has canceled the minor league season, meaning that the players to be named later aren’t guys who the Rangers are going to be able to look at over the next month.
Because only players in a team’s 60 man pool can be officially dealt, this would seem to indicate that the players that are coming to Texas are not in the A’s 60 man pool. Thus, they will, I would assume, be sent to complete the deal once the season is over and teams can trade non-pool players again.
UPDATE — Per Levi Weaver, the two players going to Texas would be Marcus Smith and Dustin Harris.
Smith was a third round pick of the A’s in 2019 out of a Kansas City high school. He’s a smallish lefthanded hitter who gets great reviews for his speed and defense in center field, but who has serious questions about his power. He turns 20 in September, and had a nice debut in the AZL in 2019, slashing .361/.466/.443.
Harris was an 11th round pick in 2019 by the A’s out of St. Petersburg College in Florida, and signed for a $250,000 bonus. Listed at 6’2”, 185 lbs., he’s a lefthanded hitter who mostly played first base in 2019 after being drafted, but also played some third base. He slashed .325/.403/.407 in 238 plate appearances between the AZL and the New York-Penn League.
Smith appears to be the more highly regarded of the pair — he was #212 on the pre-2019 draft Baseball America board, and is the #21 prospect on the BA mid-season list for the A’s.