DETROIT -- The Tigers' search for a bounce-back starter candidate led them to former Rays, Giants and Rangers left-hander Matt Moore. The team officially announced that it agreed to terms with the former All-Star on a one-year Major League deal on Tuesday.The two sides reached an agreement last week, pending
DETROIT -- The Tigers' search for a bounce-back starter candidate led them to former Rays, Giants and Rangers left-hander Matt Moore. The team officially announced that it agreed to terms with the former All-Star on a one-year Major League deal on Tuesday.
The two sides reached an agreement last week, pending a physical. Moore, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2014, passed his physical on Monday. The contract carries a $2.5 million base salary plus incentives, according to a source with knowledge of the deal.
The Tigers hope for Moore to be their 2019 version of Mike Fiers, a starter they signed to a low-risk, incentive-laden deal at this point 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 so well when Liriano 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.
"Matt is a veteran left-handed starting pitcher with a solid three-pitch mix that we see competing for a spot in our rotation next season," general manager Al Avila said in a statement. "He has the ability to effectively use the whole strike zone with his arsenal, and we're excited for him to join our organization."
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 '17, prompting a trade to Texas, where he struggled to a 3-8 record and 6.79 ERA in 39 appearances (12 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, when he tossed seven innings and allowed one unearned run against his former team on April 17, walking two and striking out six.
Moore was more effective out of the Rangers' bullpen the rest of the way, holding batters to 9-for-42 in his nine September appearances. Still, the metrics were a cause for concern, with a hard-hit rate of 44.8 percent according to Statcast™.
Moore will be a project for pitching coach Rick Anderson and the rest of the Tigers' staff as he 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 '13. But he has struggled to find an effective form since undergoing Tommy John surgery in '14 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 .326 average and .578 slugging percentage.
The Tigers 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. The organization has two open spots on its 40-man roster, at least one of which will likely go towards a prospect in next week's Rule 5 Draft.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.