Moore looking forward to 'seamless transition' back to Halos

January 31st, 2024

ANAHEIM -- Despite establishing himself as a dependable lefty reliever over the past several seasons, found himself lacking stability for quite some time.

Moore hadn’t been on the same team on back-to-back Opening Days since his time with the Rays from 2011-16, although he did play for the Giants from '16-17 after a midseason trade. So Moore decided to stick with a familiar situation, as he returned to the Angels on a one-year deal worth $9 million, the club announced on Saturday. Infielder Trey Cabbage was designated for assignment in a corresponding move.

Moore spoke with the media on Tuesday and said he believes the Angels are a team that can compete despite external expectations, and he had no hard feelings after the club placed him on waivers -- and eventually lost him to the Guardians -- late last August.

“The opportunity to play again in the same place I was last year meant a lot to me,” Moore said. “My wife and I were talking yesterday, and I think it's been about six years since I've had back-to-back seasons with the same team. I don’t have to build that rapport with everyone. It should be more of a seamless transition.”

Moore signed with the Angels prior to the 2023 season and turned in a 2.66 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP through 44 innings out of their bullpen. He also made a handful of appearances for the Guardians and Marlins near the end of the season after being placed on waivers by Los Angeles and Cleveland.

Moore understood the business aspect of the decision, as it allowed the Angels to get under the Competitive Balance Tax (CBT) threshold and gave him the chance to play for a contender.

“Hard feelings? No,” Moore said. “I understood there was a possibility that it could happen. And I agreed to it.”

The 34-year-old produced a career-high 27.5% strikeout rate last year while reducing his walk rate from 12.5% in 2022 to 6.9%.

General manager Perry Minasian said he targeted Moore throughout the offseason and was pleased to see him eventually choose to sign with the Angels.

“He’s somebody we really enjoyed having,” Minasian said. “He’s somebody that brings a lot to the clubhouse, and he’s obviously productive. And he’s also a mentor to the younger pitchers. To add a left-handed arm with the pedigree he has, I think, was really important to making that a strength for our club.”

MLB’s top prospect entering the 2012 season, Moore began his career in the Rays’ starting rotation and spent parts of six seasons with Tampa Bay. He was an All-Star in 2013 and finished that season among the top 10 in American League Cy Young Award voting.

Injuries, however, took their toll on Moore toward the end of the decade. He appeared in 97 games (58 starts) from 2017-21 and registered a 5.89 ERA and a 1.55 WHIP in his time split between the Giants, Rangers, Tigers and Phillies. He spent the 2020 season pitching in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball.

He transitioned to being a full-time reliever in 2022 and was spectacular in his second stint with Texas. Moore posted a 1.95 ERA with 83 strikeouts in 74 innings. His hard-hit rate (31.3%) and barrel rate (4.4%) each ranked above the 90th percentile.

He carried over that success to last season thanks in part to an increased use of his changeup. That paid dividends, as that pitch limited hitters to a .163 average and a .238 slugging percentage in 83 plate appearances.

Moore is the Angels’ second significant addition to their bullpen. Before agreeing with Moore, the team finalized a three-year, $33 million deal with right-hander Robert Stephenson.

Los Angeles also inked relievers Adam Kolarek, Adam Cimber and Luis García to one-year deals this offseason, and recent signee Zach Plesac could be shifted to relief. Carlos Estévez returns as closer, José Soriano and Ben Joyce are still in the mix, and José Quijada and Austin Warren are coming off Tommy John surgery.

Moore credited Minasian for being aggressive in adding to the bullpen this offseason and said that was part of the reason why he re-signed with the Angels.

“There were spots to be filled, and he went out and got the guys he wants to see at the end of the games,” Moore said. “And I’m looking forward to being part of that and how we fit in our roles.”