The Phillies continue to maintain interest in Rangers left-hander Mike Minor. At some point, though, you have to wonder whether Texas will really trade him.
The Rangers are five games over .500 at 50-45 even after losing three in a row. Trailing the Astros by 8½ games and Athletics by 4½ games, they are unlikely to win the AL West.
But the playoffs are not out of reach for Texas. The Rangers have a big four-game series in Oakland July 25-28 and then face the Indians a week later. Those are the two teams tied for the second wild-card spot in the AL.
The Rangers are also moving into a new ballpark in 2020. Teams tend to want to be competitive in that first year of a new stadium. The Rangers would be much more competitive with Minor than without him.
Could they be blown away by an offer for the lefty? Sure. It will take a strong offer. Minor is not only one of the two or three best pitchers on the trade market, he is also under a great contract. Minor is owed about $3.2 million after Aug. 1 and $9.5 million in 2020. An acquiring team could potentially ride Minor to the playoffs twice while paying him less than $13 million total.
For those reasons — the Rangers' fringe playoff hopes, the new ballpark, Minor's production and contract — he will likely be the most expensive starting pitcher to acquire in a trade this month. He's not a rental like Madison Bumgarner or owed $70 million like Zack Greinke.
Minor has been so good for the Rangers. He's 8-4 with a 2.73 ERA in 19 starts and has averaged 6.4 innings per start. For reference, Aaron Nola has averaged 5.8 innings per start.
The Phillies could really use Minor's left-handedness and his ability to go deep into games. Right now, the Phillies have three pitchers — Jake Arrieta, Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez — who cannot be trusted to go deeper than five innings. Then there's Zach Eflin, who is only four starts away from setting a new career-high in innings. The rotation situation right now is not sustainable for a team that wants to stay in the race. Minor would be a massive upgrade.
But again, it will take a lot to acquire him. The Rangers would be wise to ask for someone like Spencer Howard — a top pitching prospect the Phillies have been uninterested in moving in previous proposals — plus more. That trade might also cost someone like Mickey Moniak or Adam Haseley, in addition to a third piece.
It is a seller's market this month. Literally every contender except the Dodgers needs starting pitching. The Phillies' path to landing Minor will be difficult.
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