Angels sign lefty reliever Moore to 1-year deal

February 16th, 2023

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angels superstar Mike Trout hinted on Wednesday that the club wasn’t done adding key veterans before Opening Day, and he turned out to be correct. The Halos bolstered their bullpen on Thursday by signing lefty to a one-year deal for $7.55 million.

Moore, 33, is coming off a strong season with the Rangers, as he posted a 1.95 ERA with 83 strikeouts, 38 walks and three homers allowed in 74 innings (63 appearances). It was Moore’s first full season in relief, and the Angels believe he made adjustments that will carry over into 2023.

“He had a really productive year in ’22, and the bullpen was an area we wanted to continue to improve,” Angels general manager Perry Minasian said. “We really like what he brings to the table. He’s been a productive starter, but he transitioned to the bullpen last year, closed late in the year and got some saves, and he has the ability to pitch multiple innings. The improvement of the curveball was a big plus for him and the velo trended up.”

Moore has made 164 starts during his 11-year career with the Rays, Giants, Rangers, Tigers and Phillies. But he said a change in mentality helped him last year as he transitioned into pitching in relief.

“I think just the whole mindset change of [using] the best pitch I have right now,” Moore said. “As a starting pitcher, you don't always do that. It's just not conducive to work deep into the game. So I think that helped me out a lot. My prep going into last season was, 'Let’s get more out of each pitch and [do] what I’m capable of more often.'”

Moore saw his average fastball velocity go from 92.4 mph in 2021, when he made 13 starts and 11 relief appearances with the Phillies, to 93.9 mph with the Rangers last year. He also increased his curveball usage from roughly 15 percent in ’21 to 38 percent last year, crediting Texas' coaching staff with making a small tweak to his curveball grip.

“Seeing that small adjustment ripple into a big difference kind of started a wave of confidence,” Moore said. “The curveball is a weapon again. The uptick in the velo, I think, just came from working toward my threshold. It just came together nicely.”

Moore joins a bullpen that includes right-handers Carlos Estévez, Jimmy Herget, Ryan Tepera and likely Jaime Barría, as well as lefties Aaron Loup and José Quijada. Righties Andrew Wantz and Zack Weiss are also in that mix. Moore gives them a lefty who can get both right-handed and left-handed batters out and is capable of pitching multiple innings.

“Part of having a really good bullpen is having guys that can do different things at different times when things are needed,” Minasian said. “We feel like we have a really deep ‘pen with a lot of options. When you have a lot of options, you don’t necessarily have to go to the same hand every night, so you can keep guys fresh and strong for the six months of the season.”

The Angels previously added Estévez, lefty Tyler Anderson, infielders Gio Urshela and Brandon Drury, and outfielders Hunter Renfroe and Brett Phillips this offseason. Moore said it’s clear the Halos are trying to build a winning club, and that he saw firsthand how good they could be early last year when he was with the Rangers.

“I feel like there is an opportunity to win,” Moore said. “I feel like this group is in position to make big moves in the division. Having played against them last year, I know the first couple months were more their character and what they’re capable of than maybe the last three months.”

To make room for Moore on the roster, right-hander Davis Daniel was placed on the 60-day IL. Daniel, 25, was expected to compete for the final spot in the rotation after posting a 4.49 ERA in 21 starts at Triple-A Salt Lake last year. But he felt some discomfort in his right shoulder after throwing two weeks ago and the Angels want to be cautious with him.

“With a young arm like that, we felt it was best to take our time,” Minasian said. “We expect him to regain his health and help us at some point this season.”