It’s hard to believe that it has been over six years since the Braves selected Mike Minor with their 7th overall selection out of Vanderbilt in the 2009 MLB Draft. Though he made a quick transition to the big leagues, injuries have derailed the left-hander’s career. We have seen glimpses of the potential Minor has to offer, especially in 2013, when he posted a 3.21 ERA, by far the best campaign of his 5-year career. However, Minor struggled mightily in 2014. Left-handed batters absolutely shredded him, hitting for an average of .357 off him. Yikes.
A lot of Braves fans were ready to close the book on Minor after that season, and a lot more were on board with that decision when he battled the Braves in arbitration the following offseason. He was the first Brave to do so in over a decade. The relationship with Minor and the front office has surely gone sour, and he missed all of last season after undergoing shoulder surgery. Minor is a decent arm when healthy, but that is a huge if. He battled shoulder injuries throughout his rough 2014, and that does offer some validity for his struggles. However, with Minor battling inflammation in his rotator cuff and a torn labrum in the past two seasons, he can definitely be classified as damaged goods. The team had discussed bringing him back next season to serve as their “veteran” starter signing, but they have made it sound like his rehabilitation has been delayed and he has suffered a setback. The Bud Norris signing offered even more clarification: my money is on Mike Minor never donning the Braves uniform again.
The team still controls Minor for the next two seasons. However, given his relationship with the front office, his injury history and the abundance of arms the Braves have stockpiled, bringing back Minor makes little sense unless they feel he has the ability to haul in some young talent if he turns it around. The only possible scenario I could envision him taking the hill in Atlanta again is if he comes back at a reduced rate. The Braves are trying to watch their payroll right now as they invest in their future. I wasn’t a fan of bringing in Norris because I want the young arms who have already reached the majors to work it out among themselves and push themselves to improve and show they are worthy of a rotation spot. Having a stopgap veteran like Bud Norris or an injury case in Minor prevents them from having the ability to do so. A good season from either one of these guys could net the team an unextraordinary return, but is the investment really worth it if it’s impacting the development of our future assets?
I believe in Mike Minor’s talent and I really wanted him to be healthy enough to take the mound for us last season and perhaps turn it around, but with all the arms the Braves have right now I think it’s time for the Braves to cut their losses. We saw the team do so with Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy last season, and though he was a big investment given how high Atlanta drafted him, that was Frank Wren’s front office. At the same time, the Braves have not shied away from acquiring arms that are damaged goods under Hart and Coppy. Mike Minor is not in the future plans for this team, and if he were healthy he would likely be gone. Whether he will be back with us next season relies on his health, and that’s why I doubt he is back. The only thing Minor has going for him? He is the only lefty the team has besides Manny Banuelos, who isn’t exactly an iron man himself. It’s a situation worth monitoring in the coming weeks.