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Mike Minor signs with the Texas Rangers

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The first Royals free agent departs.

MLB: Houston Astros at Kansas City Royals Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers have signed former Royals pitcher Mike Minor to a contract, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed. According to Rosenthal, the Rangers plan to use Minor as a starting pitcher, a role he performed from 2010 to 2014 with the Braves. In 110 career starts, Minor has a career ERA of 4.10.

Minor originally signed a two-year, $7.25 million deal with the Royals before the 2016 season, with the understanding he would miss much of the first year recovering from labrum surgery. He would not make a Major League appearance that first year, but he made the Opening Day roster in 2017 and would excel in a relief role. Among all relievers last year, Minor was ninth in WAR at 2.1, according to Fangraphs. He posted a 2.55 ERA in 77 23 innings with 88 strikeouts and 22 walks. He had a $10 mutual option for the 2018 season that he declined.

According to Rustin Dodd, the Royals made an attempt to keep Minor, but he was likely a very coveted free agent in this market and out of their price range. I projected him to land a three-year, $27 million deal, and most observers expect him to get a three, or even four-year deal worth around $8-10 million per year.

The Royals made a nice gamble on Minor in 2016, and will have to watch him walk away with no draft pick compensation, since he was not made a Qualifying Offer. For small market teams, the trick is not in keeping guys like Mike Minor, it is in finding them to begin with. Now begins the tough work of doing it again.