After spending the 2020 season in Japan, a familiar SF Giants face will return to the United States on a guaranteed contract with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Former SF Giants hurler Matt Moore has agreed to a one-year, $3 million contract with the Phillies. The fact that it is a major-league deal indicates just how well he threw the ball in Japan. At times in 2020, the southpaw was touching 95 MPH on his fastball, which is the type of velocity he has not shown in years.
Earlier in his career, the left-handed hurler was considered one of the emerging young stars in the game as he was ranked as the no. 1 prospect in baseball by both Baseball Prospectus and MLB.Com before the 2012 season.
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Moore never fully lived up to that hype, but he did show promise as he registered a 3.53 ERA across 347 frames between 2011-2014. However, he tore the UCL in his pitching elbow that required Tommy John surgery at the start of the 2014 season. Since then, the 31-year-old has struggled to regain the form that once made him a top prospect.
Of course, the move that brought Moore to San Francisco was a very polarizing move as it involved fan-favorite Matt Duffy being traded away. That said, the Giants likely would not have made the playoffs without Moore on the roster.
In parts of two seasons with the Giants, Moore posted a 5.12 ERA, 4.40 FIP, 1.48 WHIP, and a 2.19 SO/W ratio. This included a 9.2 percent walk rate, so the lefty did battle some command issues in his brief tenure.
Following a tough 2017 campaign, Moore was shipped to the Texas Rangers for a pair of pitching prospects in Israel Cruz and Sam Wolff. It has been four years since the move, but Wolff remains with the Giants organization as an intriguing, hard-throwing bullpen arm.
Since Moore was shipped away, the struggles have continued. He has produced a 6.19 ERA in 112 innings split between the Rangers and Detroit Tigers in 2018-2019. He sustained a meniscus tear on his right knee early in 2019 that knocked him out for the season.
In an effort to rebuild value and get a much-needed change of scenery, Moore pitched in Japan in 2020. In 85 total innings with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks, Moore was electric with a 2.65 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and a strong 3.77 SO/W ratio.
Evidently, that was enough for the Phillies to hand out a major league contract. The southpaw joins a rotation headlined by Zach Wheeler and Aaron Nola as he looks to make a late-career renaissance. Given the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, teams are really going to need depth to make it through 2021, so Moore has a good shot of carving out a role with Philadelphia next year.