If the New York Yankees don’t want to dip too far into the prospect pool, could Mike Minor be a realistic target to bolster the bullpen?
Right now, there seems to be nothing that can stop the New York Yankees here in 2017.
Their offense is currently on a five-game streak of eight runs scored or more for just the second time since 1939, their starting rotation owns the second-best ERA (2.69) in the Majors here in the month of June and their stellar bullpen has helped give them a four-game lead over the Boston Red Sox in the American League East.
All in all, things are going so right for the rebuilding Yankees that general manager Brian Cashman may end up buying a couple pieces to prepare his organization for a deep playoff run. Given he sold his biggest assets not too long ago, it’s quite remarkable.
Many experts have pointed to the biggest names on the market as potential targets for New York come the trade deadline on July 31. Of course, Cashman has the firepower with prospects like Gleyber Torres, Clint Frazier, Blake Rutherford and more to wheel in big names like Gerrit Cole, Yu Darvish, Jose Quintana and more.
Compliment those names with a rotation that consists of four starters with sub-four ERAs, a stellar bullpen featuring Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman, a lineup that features the dynamic duo of Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez and you have yourself a team that is in World Series conversation.
But, what if the asking price for a frontline starter is too close for comfort and Yankees’ ace Masahiro Tanaka figures himself out? We’re talking about a team already trending towards the postseason. What else is there to add? Well, in the wake of Tommy Layne‘s designation for assignment, a move to wheel in a stellar lefty specialist could be in order and one who will be on the cheap side coming from a close-to-rebuilding franchise is LHP, Mike Minor.
In 26 games for the Kansas City Royals this season, the 29-year-old has fanned 33 batters in 32 innings of work while posting a 2.25 ERA and 3-1 record. Minor’s home run rate (0.3) is a career-low and his numbers against left-handed hitters makes him a perfect target for New York — especially at Yankee Stadium.
Minor has held opponents to a mere .125/.205/.175 slash line while striking out 15 of the 44 faced this season. His ERA of 0.73 ranks fourth — only behind Justin Wilson, Marc Rzepczynski and Felipe Riveroin — the Majors this season among left-handed relievers (min. 15 games in relief) vs left-handed hitters.
Is this truly a need for the Yankees? It’s not pressing (they ranks second in BAA vs LHB), but with Layne now out of the picture, Chasen Shreve‘s career .250 batting average against lefties and the lack of depth of lefty relievers not named Aroldis Chapman, it may be an avenue worth pursuing.
Especially when the Yankees get to the latter and more difficult part of the schedule in September when they play the Red Sox four times, Baltimore Orioles seven times, Tampa Bay Rays six times and Toronto Blue Jays six times. At that point in the season, you want a trusty southpaw to go out and get guys like Chris Davis, Corey Dickerson, Kevin Kiermaier, Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mitch Moreland out during a pennant race and eventually in the postseason when it’s time to face Brian McCann, Josh Reddick and more.
Minor’s contract expires at the end of the 2017 season — if a $1.25 million buyout is used at the end of the year — so there is virtually no risk for Cashman in this situation. If the rotation keeps up its stellar production, it might be the only area worth improving come July.