The Texas Rangers opened the 2016 season as favorites in the American League West in part because they would have one of the top 1-2 pitching punches in the game for the second half.
Yu Darvish was coming back from Tommy John surgery and would join Cole Hamels, the Rangers’ savior in 2015. When the Rangers won the West in 2016 and entered the AL Division Series, Hamels and Darvish were thought to be formidable enough to carry the Rangers deep into October.
Things didn’t quite turnout that way.
The point is that it hasn’t been long since the Rangers had a top-flight starting pitcher. They had two, and both now pitch for the Chicago Cubs.
Minor was selected to his first All-Star team June 30, but he won’t be pitching Tuesday. The reason? Well, it’s complicated.
Ultimately, he and the Rangers decided that they will have no shot at the postseason if their No. 1 starter isn’t rested and ready for the second half.
So, Minor will be a spectator at Progressive Field and will be the Rangers’ starter Saturday against the division-leading Houston Astros. Holding him until the weekend allows the Rangers to start him the following weekend at Houston, which holds a nine-game lead over the third-place Rangers.
At 48-42, the Rangers have exceeded expectations and are flirting with the playoffs. They are third in the race for the second wild card, three games back and with the Oakland A’s and Boston Red Sox ahead of them.
The Rangers are pushing the front office to consider adding help at the July 31 trade deadline, but are also another losing streak away from convincing general manager Jon Daniels to hold pat or to become a seller.
Whatever happens the next three weeks, Minor (and Lynn) shouldn’t be traded.
Minor, it bears repeating, should be given a contract extension.
He would be the top pitcher on the trade market, with another season of control at a ridiculously club-friendly $9.5 million. That, combined with his 2019 performance, could produce a bevy of young talent for the Rangers, whose vision remains on the future.
Minor is not young by any means, at 31, at but he’s also not old.
He’s not too old to give an extension.
The Rangers probably wouldn’t give him five or six years. Three plus an option might be about right.
Minor, who admits that he doesn’t like change, is open to staying beyond next. He and his family like their neighborhood, and he likes the way the franchise is headed.
As he said last month, the Rangers would be sending the wrong message to the players and the fan base if they start trading away key pieces.
If the first half has done anything, it should have convinced Daniels that the Rangers are closer to being taken seriously as contenders than just one-year wonders who struck gold over the first 90 games.
Minor has much to do with why the Rangers are in this position. He appears to be in a position to help the Rangers the next handful of seasons.
He should be rewarded with an extension, not the threat of a trade.