New York Yankees

Yankees need to exercise major caution in pursuit of Mike Minor

Mike Minor would certainly be an upgrade for the Yankees rotation, but a deep dive into his 2019 statistics show that he isn’t anything close to an ace. 

The Yankees are one of several contenders shopping for high-end starting pitching ahead of the trade deadline. The Rangers are willing to deal Mike Minor for the right price. Unfortunately, the 31-year-old southpaw isn’t quite the ace that some of his statistics suggest he is.

It’s obvious that Brian Cashman and his front office at least have cursory interest in bringing Minor to the Bronx. The team dispatched scouts to watch Minor’s start against the Astros on Friday. Minor was good, but not great against Houston. He made it through seven innings, but he gave up four solo home runs to the powerful Astros lineup. In many ways, that start was a perfect encapsulation of what Minor is as a starting pitcher.

The towering southpaw certainly has some eye-catching statistics on the season. His 2.86 ERA in 20 starts has allowed him to already rack up a WAR of 6.0 on the current campaign. All of those marks would comfortably make him New York’s No. 1 starter. Only Domingo German has an ERA of under 4.00 as a starter for the Yankees on the season.

Minor’s results have been terrific, but the way he’s gotten there should give the Yankees organization serious concern. In particular, his FIP of 4.09 should significantly depress his trade value. The fact that Minor is walking 3.1 hitters per nine innings means he’s constantly throwing stressful pitches with runners on base. To date, Minor has gotten out of a very high percentage of those jams. It’s unclear whether or not his luck in high stress situations will continue for the full season.

On the flip side, Minor is striking out a lot of batters as well. That’s a big reason why the Yankees are gravitating towards him as a potential trade target. Pitching in Yankee Stadium means giving up home runs is always a distinct possibility. The best way to limit the park’s short dimensions is to force hitters to swing and miss pitches.

In the end, Minor’s true value as a pitcher almost certainly lies somewhere between his superficial ERA of 2.86 and his FIP of 4.09. That doesn’t rule out the possibility of him providing positive value for the Yankees down the stretch. In fact, there’s a very strong probability that he’ll comfortably slot into the top-half of Aaron Boone’s starting rotation. That also means Minor would likely find himself pitching in the postseason rotation.

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Even so, the Yankees shouldn’t be paying the Rangers ace-level prices for Minor. Instead, Cashman and company should be looking to pay middle of the rotation prices. Texas might be able to extort a higher price from another franchise. If so, the Yankees should allow Minor to go elsewhere.

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