Texas Rangers

Trade Minor? Why Daniels can’t now and why he may consider extending the Rangers lefty

Minor: “I think I have better stuff now”

Mike Minor was brilliant Tuesday for the Texas Rangers, tossing his first career MLB shutout in a 5-0 win over the Los Angeles Angels.
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Mike Minor was brilliant Tuesday for the Texas Rangers, tossing his first career MLB shutout in a 5-0 win over the Los Angeles Angels.

The day after the first career shutout for Mike Minor was very similar to the day after his no-decision last week.

Weights. Lots of lower-body weights. Lots of rest for a left arm that pumped 103 pitches at the Los Angeles Angels over nine efficient innings.

One difference, though, was a little tweet from Bob Nightengale at USA Today saying that the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies were showing strong in acquiring Minor.

Those two clubs were among the most aggressive over the off-season in pursuing Minor, whose attractive contract ($19 million the next two seasons) makes him even more attractive to contending clubs.

Even Minor expected he would be traded over the off-season.

Now, though, the Rangers would be foolish to deal him.

They should extend him.

Nothing is brewing in that department other than kicking the thought around. Yes, the idea of an extension is built on an optimistic outlook for the rest of this season, all 145 games of it, and 2020.

However, the Rangers have given some reasons to be optimist over the first 10 percent of their season.

They entered Wednesday 9-7 and in third place in the American League West. Minor’s start was one of the many individual highlights posted by Rangers players so far this season.

They don’t look as completely helpless as prognosticators believe they will at the end of the season. The Rangers, in other words, still aren’t considered a threat for the playoffs.

Just don’t tell them that.

The Rangers are winning, occasionally because Minor and Wednesday starter Lance Lynn are giving them a chance and more frequently because the offense is bludgeoning opposing pitchers.

They won again Wednesday, edging the Angels 5-4 to complete a three-game sweep.

Winning, especially if it continues, puts general manager Jon Daniels in a tough position. To trade away a regular now would send the wrong message to fans who might be considering visits to Globe Life Park but also send the wrong message to players who believe the Rangers have a good team.

And it’s not like the Rangers a teeming with starting pitchers.

Minor, on the other hand, needs to continue to pitch well to keep the Rangers thinking about a new contract for him. He believes he has more than he offered Tuesday.

If the Rangers continue to win and Minor keeps pitching like a front-end starter, Daniels might start believing more and more that the Rangers are close enough to contend in 2020 in the first season of Globe Life Field and beyond.

Minor would be handy to have around when the Rangers’ open another window to contend.

Granted, that was a lot of ifs.

The pitching staff’s early woes would indicate that the .563 winning percentage entering the series finale against the Angels is not remotely sustainable. Ditto for the lack of upper-level pitching depth in the minors.

The bats are going to cool off, especially if the hitters can’t figure out how to hit on the road.

Minor, freed from the tight leash he was kept on last season, seems more relaxed on the mound than he did in 2018. He knows he can just pitch instead of watching the scoreboard for his pitch count.

He knows what took place the past two off-seasons in free agency. He has seen the volume of players signing extensions rather than face the uncertainty of free agency.

Besides, Minor likes living in the Metroplex, he loves the vibe this year in the clubhouse, and he really doesn’t like change.

So, yeah, the thought of an extension for Minor, though still early in the season, is at least worth the Rangers kicking around.

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After 11 seasons covering the Rangers for the Star-Telegram, Jeff Wilson knows that baseball is a 24/7/365 business and there is far more to baseball than just the 162 games each season. There’s also more to Jeff -- like a family and impressive arsenals of Titleist hats and adidas shoes -- but sometimes it’s hard to tell.
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