You know the market is finally starting to shake out when there’s a surprise trade:
Giants trading Matt Moore to Texas for prospects. Deal pending physical.
— John Shea (@JohnSheaHey) December 16, 2017
John Shea very quick. Just got confirmation of this. Rangers will acquire Matt Moore. Not sure of return yet. https://t.co/nizNpG2yOH
— Evan Grant (@Evan_P_Grant) December 16, 2017
In an earlier tweet, Shea framed the trade as being about clearing salary (the Giants are very close to the luxury tax cap, which may surprise you given their awfulness in 2017), so the return might not be substantial. Moore is set to make $9 million in 2018 on an option the Giants exercised earlier this offseason. Perhaps when they failed to land Giancarlo Stanton or Shohei Ohtani, the Giants elected to go another route with their offseason. Or perhaps they simply want to have more flexibility to target other free agents. In other words, I wouldn’t yet see this as a signal that they’re going to sell off other pieces with a view to not competing in 2018.
There was a time when Moore, 28, was a highly-coveted Rays arm on a highly-attractive contract. But then he got hurt, took a long time to really come fully back, and still hasn’t quite righted the ship. You probably remember him dominating the Cubs in the 2016 NLDS, but he was actually only just “OK” that season, and then was downright terrible in 2017. The Rangers are buying low on the hope that he can get it back together once he gets out of the NL West, where his fly ball tendencies just weren’t playing.
For the Rangers, this is the third questionable starting pitcher they’ve picked up this offseason, together with Mike Minor (converting back from the bullpen) and Doug Fister (who is Doug Fister). They absolutely needed a lot of arms, and, well, they’ve added a lot of arms.
Given the fact that their rotation still isn’t full, and they might opt to go with a six-man rotation, this doesn’t take them out of the free agent or trade market for another arm. But at least it does fill one of their spots with an arm the Cubs weren’t targeting.