Source: Minor declines mutual option for 2018

Source: Minor declines mutual option for 2018

KANSAS CITY -- Royals left-hander Mike Minor has declined a $10 million mutual option, a source told MLB.com, thus making him a free agent.

The move is not a surprise. Under the present regime, Kansas City has yet to exercise a mutual option with a player -- mutual options are more of an accounting strategy to increase the value of a contract while keeping annual payrolls in check.

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Minor signed a two-year, $7.25 million contract prior to the 2016 season. He made $2 million in '16 and $4 million in '17. There is a $1.25 million buyout for '18.

Minor did not pitch for the Royals in 2016 as he continued to recover from left shoulder surgery in '15. But the 29-year-old had an excellent -- at times dominating -- season in '17 after converting to the bullpen. He posted a 2.55 ERA in 65 relief appearances.

Minor likely boosted his free-agent value when he notched six saves when he inherited the closer role in mid-September, displaying a mid-90s fastball with a piercing cutter.

Royals officials have privately expressed interest in re-signing Minor.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.