DETROIT -- The Tigers' search for a bounceback starter candidate has led them to former Rays, Giants and Rangers left-hander Matt Moore. The team spent Tuesday reaching an agreement with Moore on a one-year, $2.5 million contract, pending a physical, sources confirmed to MLB.com.MLB.com's Mark Feinsand first reported the two
DETROIT -- The Tigers' search for a bounceback starter candidate has led them to former Rays, Giants and Rangers left-hander Matt Moore. The team spent Tuesday reaching an agreement with Moore on a one-year, $2.5 million contract, pending a physical, sources confirmed to MLB.com.
MLB.com's Mark Feinsand first reported the two sides were close to a deal, saying the contract is expected to be in the $2.5 million-$3 million range plus incentives. Yahoo Sports reported the two sides have an agreement. The Tigers have not announced a deal, as is their practice when a physical is pending.
The Tigers hope for Moore to be their 2019 version of Mike Fiers, a starter they signed to a low-risk, incentive-laden deal a year ago in hopes of a rebound season. The plan worked well with Fiers, who went 7-6 with a 3.48 ERA in 21 starts before Detroit traded him to Oakland in August for two prospects. A similar deal with Francisco Liriano did not work out as well. He struggled to a 5-12 record and 4.58 ERA and drew little interest from other clubs.
The 29-year-old Moore is younger than Fiers and Liriano, but he has further to rebound. Moore won 13 games for the Rays and Giants in 2016, but he went 6-15 with a 5.52 ERA for San Francisco in 2017, prompting a trade to Texas, where he struggled to a 3-8 record and 6.79 ERA in 39 appearances, 12 of them starts.
Moore opened this past season in the Rangers' rotation, but he went to the bullpen in mid-June after completing six innings in just two of his 12 starts. His best outing came against the Rays on April 17, when he tossed seven innings and allowed an unearned run, walking two and striking out six.
Moore was more effective out of the Rangers' bullpen the rest of the way, but the metrics were still a cause for concern, with a hard-hit rate of 44.8 percent, according to Statcast™.
It will be a project for pitching coach Rick Anderson and the rest of the Tigers' staff as Moore competes for a rotation spot in Spring Training. Moore was baseball's top-rated prospect going into 2012 and a 17-game winner and an All-Star for the Rays as a 24-year-old in 2013, but he has struggled since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2014 to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow.
Moore relies heavily on a 92-mph fastball, with a curveball and changeup mixed in. Much of the damage off him in 2018 came against his fastball, which opponents hit for a .300 average and .560 slugging percentage.
The Tigers will likely remain active in the pitching market, hoping to add depth, build competition for roster spots and bridge the gap before Detroit's highly rated pitching prospects begin knocking on the door of the big leagues. Friday's non-tender deadline is expected to add more pitchers to the free-agent market.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.