Matt Moore returns from Japan to join Phils

February 3rd, 2021

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies knew they needed to find more starting pitching before Spring Training opens next month.

They believe they found someone who can help. As previously reported, the Phillies and left-hander Matt Moore agreed to a one-year, $3 million contract. The deal was announced on Wednesday.

Moore, 31, went 6-3 with a 2.65 ERA in 15 starts last season in Japan, striking out 98 and walking 26 in 85 innings. He will compete with right-handers Spencer Howard, Vince Velasquez and others for one of the final two jobs in the Phillies’ rotation, behind Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler and Zach Eflin.

But the fact the Phillies signed Moore to a big league deal indicates he has an excellent opportunity. The Phillies earlier this week signed right-hander Iván Nova, but to a Minor League contract with an invite to camp as a non-roster player.

It could be a nice comeback story for Moore. Once considered one of the top three prospects in baseball, alongside Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, Moore went 17-4 with a 3.29 ERA in 27 starts with the Rays in 2013, making the American League All-Star team and finishing ninth for the AL Cy Young Award. He was 29-17 with a 3.53 ERA in 63 appearances (61 starts) from 2011-14, but he suffered an elbow injury and required Tommy John surgery in April 2014.

Moore, who was teammates with Phillies general manager Sam Fuld in Tampa Bay from 2011-13, was 25-39 with a 5.13 ERA in 118 appearances (90 starts) after the surgery. He pitched 10 scoreless innings in two starts with the Tigers in early 2019, but he suffered a season-ending knee injury. He signed a one-year deal with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks in Dec. 2019.

It is a small sample size, but Moore’s average fastball velocity in those two starts with Detroit (92.9 mph) had been its highest since 2016 (93.4 mph). Moore maintained his velocity in Japan, occasionally hitting 95 mph on the radar gun.