Braves non-tender starter Mike Minor
Mike Minor is no longer a member of the Atlanta Braves.
The 27-year-old left-hander was non-tendered before Wednesday’s midnight deadline, making him an unrestricted free agent. Minor joins infielder Pedro Ciriaco and outfielder Eury Perez as the franchise’s three non-tender players.
Once considered a top-of-the-rotation arm for the Braves, especially during his strong 2013 campaign, Minor has been unable to pitch effectively or stay on the field over the past two seasons while dealing with health problems. The southpaw posted a 4.77 ERA in 145 1/3 innings during the team’s disappointing 2014 season, then missed the entire ’15 campaign due to shoulder problems that required surgery. Though early reports are positive on Minor’s health, the team was unwilling to pay at least 80 percent of the $5.6 million he won in arbitration in February.
Minor could still re-join the franchise, reports MLB.com’s Mark Bowman, if he reaches a free-agent agreement — likely on more team-friendly terms.
Atlanta is overloaded with young pitching and added free-agent veteran Bud Norris last week, a move that general manager John Coppolella said was geared toward the 2016 rotation, but Minor was still the only proven left-hander on staff.
Highly regarded prospect Manny Banuelos saw limited action for the parent club last season, but he, along with fellow prospect Max Fried, continues to face question marks concerning their health. The team’s No. 1 prospect, lefty Sean Newcomb, is unlikely to make the team in spring training (perhaps due to the financial benefits of delaying his major-league clock). The team’s top draft pick last season is also a left-hander, but Kolby Allard is still 18 years old and a long, long ways away from the majors.
Unless manager Fredi Gonzalez is going to juggle an all-righty rotation as he did at times last season, the team might have to hand Banuelos a rotation spot or make another personnel move.
Minor, based purely on his resume and the fact that he pitches left-handed, is bound to draw interest on the open market. Much like two other former productive Braves pitchers that simply ran into health problems, Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy, expect Minor to find an MLB roster somewhere if his shoulder can hold up. That 3.5 WAR he posted in 2013 is still too enticing to pass up — just not for $4-5 million this season.
Minor was the seventh overall pick in the 2009 MLB Draft, making him the third former Braves first-round pick the team has traded in recent years, joining Jason Heyward and Sean Gilmartin.
Atlanta now has three slots open on the 40-man roster, with starter Shelby Miller and relievers Arodys Vizcaino and Chris Withrow being arbitration-eligible.