It is clear the Yankees need pitching. Both CC Sabathia and J.A. Happ have struggled this year and are both over 35. Domingo German has been great, but is already approaching his career high in innings and will likely need to scale back at some point. We have no idea what Luis Severino will do if and when he is ready to pitch this year. The need is clear, and if you believe Jim Bowden of The Athletic, the Yankees are guaranteed to land at least one impact starter in the next week.
One of the starters on the market is Mike Minor and he is my preferred trade candidate. The 31 year old lefty has been great for the Rangers this season, pitching to a 2.86 ERA with a 9.14 K/9 and 3.14 BB/9. Those numbers are good for 2.7 fWAR which puts him 19th in baseball. And if you prefer Baseball-Reference WAR, Minor leads all of MLB with 6.1. The walks are a little high at 8.6%, but are made up for with a high K% of 25.1%.
Minor’s batted ball types have remained the same over the past two years. About 20% of contact against Minor is soft contact, 37% is hard contact, and 43% is medium contact. This is right in line with league averages, and Minor has done this in hitter-haven Texas. The reason why I am excited about Minor is his Statcast profile.
Everything there is at or above average. Average fastball velocity with an elite spin rate makes for a great fastball. You can see the above average K% which is what you want for pitchers in Yankee Stadium. But the real encouraging information is the batted ball data. Simply put, batters do not hit the ball hard off Minor this season. He has great exit velocity and hard hit % numbers as well as strong xwOBA, xBA, and xSLG. What those “x” stats mean is that the strong performance so far is likely not a fluke because we would not expect batters to be doing better than they are against Minor. And, more importantly, moving forward I do not see reason to expect strong regression.
What will it cost?
That’s the big question. With a low salary this year and next ($9.5 million), Minor is certainly an attractive trade piece. The Rangers are likely to sell because they have gone 2-8 in their last 10 games dropping them to .500 on the season. That puts them 6.5 games back of the second wild card spot with the Angels, Red Sox, Rays, and A’s in front of them.
There is a new website which can help us evaluate trade proposals, Baseball Trade Values. They calculate the trade value for each player based on surplus value. That is, a player’s value is his field value – his salary. Field value is the complicated part of that calculation, and this number includes a player’s WAR, projections, inflation, years of control, and injury risk. They also apply a market adjustment to account for supply and demand at this time of year. Thus, these numbers are meant to be comprehensive and include all the information we need to understand how teams are likely to evaluate a player. Based on this information, Minor has a trade value of 20.3.
Let’s take a look at some potential trade proposals for Mike Minor.
This proposal starts with Estevan Florial as the headliner. Florial is one of the Yankees top prospects, ranking 3rd in the organization and 96 in all of baseball according to FanGraphs. Roansy Contreras ranks 9th in the organization to give you an idea of his value. Contreras had a breakout 2018, and the FanGraphs writers believe he could be a Top 100 prospect by the end of this season. He is 20 years old, and some scouts compare him to Luis Severino because of his size and ability to reach the upper 90s. You can see by the numerical value that this package is exactly equal for both sides and would constitute a fair trade proposal according to the Trade Values.
In this proposal, Clint Frazier is the headliner. If I’m the Rangers, my ask starts with one of Frazier or Deivi Garcia. Garcia is off-limits in this trade for me because his trade value is actually higher than Minor’s at 26.3. Plus, I could see Garcia helping out at the major league level by the end of this season. You can see how Frazier and Minor have eerily similar trade values, but the Yankees would need to kick in a few smaller pieces to get a deal done. I chose Isiah Gilliam and Nick Nelson as those pieces because they are likely trade candidates I wrote about a few weeks ago. Nelson is a AA pitcher with some control issues and Gilliam is a AA outfield prospect. Most trades for starting pitchers involve 3-4 pieces to account for the inherent risk of prospects, and this seems like a fair trade.
This is an interesting proposal because of the players involved. Jonathan Loaisiga is the most MLB-ready pitching prospect the Yankees have and has contributed the past two seasons, yet he has high injury concerns which likely lowers his value. Although I am a big believer in Jonny Lasagna’s stuff, I worry with the injury risk and his inability to pitch deep into games will prevent him from being a starter long-term. In all his starts over the past two seasons, Loaisiga has completed 5 innings just twice, and has never completed the 6th inning. He is recovering from injury. Thus if a team wants pitching in a trade, Loaisiga is the guy I want to include. Everson Pereira is the 7th best prospect in the Yankees system, and he is a toolsy outfielder in Low-A ball. He does not have much power, but the rest of his game is strong.
Multiple Top 10 prospects
The common theme in these packages is that if the Yankees want to keep Frazier or Garcia, it will take two top 10 prospects to get a deal done for Minor. You see the drastic drop-off in trade value between a top prospect like Garcia (26.3) and the 9th prospect in Contreras (5.4). Thus, the Yankees cannot just send a quantity over quality package. It will take one of the Yankees top prospects – likely either Estevan Florial or Clint Frazier.
Although the trade value calculator accounts for market factors, there is a huge supply and demand issue going on right now. Every contender needs pitching, and there are few high-end starters on the market. If the Indians don’t sell and the Tigers don’t lower their asking price for Matthew Boyd, Minor could be the best starter dealt this deadline. That increases his trade value, and I would not be surprised if the actual package needed includes Florial, Loaisiga, and a couple lower-tier guys like Nelson.
Even though that package is higher than Minor’s value according to the site, it might be what is needed to get a deal done. It is said that a fair trade should hurt a little, and that certainly would. But the Yankees need pitching and this year is such a great opportunity to win a championship. Minor is an impact starter who has excelled in a hitter’s ballpark. I hope ninja Cashman can get something done.