ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have acquired left-handed pitcher Matt Moore and $750,000 in international bonus pool money from the Giants, the club announced.
The Rangers paid a nominal price in prospects, giving up Minor League right-handed pitchers Sam Wolff and Israel Cruz. Neither were among the Rangers' top 30 prospects according to MLBPipeline.com. The Rangers will assume all of Moore's $9 million contract for 2018. Moore also has a club option of $10 million for 2019 with a $750,000 buyout.
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The trade was designed to clear payroll for the Giants while the Rangers are counting on a comeback from a starting pitcher who was once headed for top-of-the-rotation status before being derailed by an elbow injury.
"He is a young, 28-year-old left-hander," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "Despite not having his best year last year, he is coming off pitching almost 400 innings the past two years. He's got a four-pitch mix and has had some success in both leagues."
Moore was 6-15 with a 5.52 ERA in 31 starts and one relief appearance for the Giants this past season. The 15 losses were tied for the most in the National League and the ERA was also the highest.
"We feel like there are some reasons why we feel he will bounce back," Daniels said. "I talked to him tonight, he has a good mindset and is really driven to bounce back."
Moore was once a top prospect for the Rays and considered a future star. He was 17-4 with a 3.29 ERA in 27 starts for the Rays in 2013 and was named to the American League All-Star team. He was just 24 years old.
But he made just two starts in 2014 before coming down with elbow problems that led to Tommy John reconstruction surgery. Moore returned to full strength in 2016 and made a career-high 33 starts, finishing 13-12 with a 4.08 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP.
The Rays traded him to the Giants on Aug. 1, 2016. The Rangers also tried to trade for him at the same time. Although he fell off last season, he stayed healthy all year and pitched 174 1/3 innings after 198 1/3 the year before.
"The circumstances have allowed us to pick him up for a little bit less than in the past," Daniels said.
The Rangers now have five veteran starters in Cole Hamels, Martin Perez, Mike Minor, Doug Fister and Moore. There is still a possibility Minor could pitch in the bullpen and Matt Bush could be converted into a starter. But Daniels said the intention right now is for Minor to stretch out as a starter.
The Rangers could add more starting pitching before the offseason is over, but it is more likely to be for depth rather than a front-line starter. But they are starting to push the limits of the financial resources they had planned to use toward starting pitching this winter.
As much as the Rangers may have flirted with Zack Greinke or Jacob Arrieta at the Winter Meetings, those possibilities appear dead. Any potential reunion with Yu Darvish is also fading away.
"I have been pretty consistent all along in saying we weren't going to be playing at the top of the market," Daniels said.