Another month passes and another long reliever leaves the Tigers. MLBTR passed along today that the Kansas City Royals have signed now former Tiger Zach Miner to a minor league contract. Miner missed all of 2010 with a elbow injury, which lead to Tommy John surgery, and was designated for assignment soon after the season ended.
The Tigers had talks about bringing him back on a deal similar to the one he landed with Kansas City, but my guess is that he ultimately decided he’d have a better chance to return to a starting role with the Royals.
From the Tigers perspective, this is not at all heartbreaking. Miner wasn’t going to be happy in a long relief role, even if he were to return healthy. That was going to be his ceiling in Detroit, however. What it does mean is that one more potential reliever is scratched from the list of possibilities to take over in the role Miner held two years ago, and was filled by Eddie Bonine last year.
It also means that there’s a greater chance that Armando Galarraga will make the club in one role or another. Even if the Tigers bring in a veteran starter to claim the fifth spot, or Galarraga is beaten out by a minor leaguer for the job, Armando would slot into a bullpen spot.
In signing Miner, the Royals get a guy with a good sinker, but who has never learned to trust his stuff and attack hitters. Now with a surgically repaired elbow, you have to wonder if he’ll ever be able to make that adjustment. He’s always looked more comfortable when starting, however, and Kansas City has a serious lack of major league caliber starters at this point. This a very good, low cost move by the Royals. If Miner is able to regain his health, he could serve as a one-year stop gap for the Royals while they wait on their plethora of young arms to become major-league ready.
Interestingly, the Royals have now acquired every player involved in the Tigers-Braves trade that initially brought Miner to Detroit. At the 2005 trade deadline, the Tigers sent RHP Kyle Farnsworth to Atlanta in exchange for Miner and RHP Roman Colon. Colon was later dealt to Kansas City where he pitched until his release last year and Farnsworth pitched for the Royals in 2009 and 2010 before being traded back to the Braves.