Mike Minor spoke with a genuine level of gratitude about his previous stint with the Kansas City Royals, a period of great uncertainty regarding his physical health and his future in baseball. At the same time, he also felt like he had something to prove by the time he walked out the door.
Three years later, the left-handed veteran pitcher signed a free-agent contract with the Royals having established himself once again as a starting pitcher and feeling a sense of responsibility to the organization that stood by him even when he wasn't able to perform on the field.
Minor, who signed a two-year deal worth a guaranteed $18 million and a club option for a third season on Tuesday, said of reaching an agreement, "I felt like I owed Dayton (Moore) and the organization something from the last time I was there, the way they gave me an opportunity after having surgery and then not pitching and only pitching one year for them. So I felt committed to Kansas City, and I liked my time there."
The combination of his previous ties to the Royals, their heavy interest at the start of free agency despite him having a subpar season, and the club's need for another reliable veteran presence in their starting rotation made them well-matched dance partners.
Minor, who turns 33 later this month, spoke with reporters on Wednesday afternoon via conference call from his home in Tennessee.
He said the Royals came after him "really aggressively" and were prepared to make an offer early where some other teams were still feeling out the market.
"I told (my agent) I didn't want to wait around when there was a good opportunity with Kansas City," Minor said.
Minor came to the Royals in 2016 after having had season-ending shoulder surgery in 2015. He spent two years with the organization, but he didn't pitch at all for the club in 2016. He pitched very effectively out of the bullpen in 2017.
The Texas Rangers offered him a three-year deal going into the 2018 season with the opportunity to be a starting pitcher again — he'd started for the Atlanta Braves prior to his stint with the Royals.
His multiple-inning relief outings with the Royals were his indication that his career as a starter "wasn't over."