On the first night of the Winter Meetings, Giants officials indicated they planned to stay under the $197 million luxury tax line. On the last night of the Winter Meetings, general manager Bobby Evans said he had offers in hand that would allow the club to shed payroll. Friday, it all came together.
The Giants traded Matt Moore and international bonus pool money to the Texas Rangers in exchange for minor league right-handers Sam Wolff and Israel Cruz. The deal costs them their No. 4 starter, but also gives the Giants an extra $9 million to play with as they look to fill multiple holes. The Giants previously had only about $10 million to spend before reaching the tax line for a fourth straight year, but they now have nearly $20 million as they look for upgrades in center field, right field and third base.
“This move allows us to reallocate our resources to address our position player needs,” Evans said. “In addition, we are pleased to add two power arms to our system. Our focus remains to strengthen our outfield defense and our everyday lineup.”
Moore, 28, was acquired at the deadline in 2016 in exchange for Matt Duffy, Lucius Fox and Michael Santos. The results were mixed. Moore was a boost to the rotation down the stretch that year and would have gone down as a postseason hero for the Giants had the bullpen not blown Game 4 of the NLDS. He had a 5.52 ERA in 2017, but at the same time, the Giants always felt the trade was worth it. Duffy missed the entire season with an Achilles issue and Fox, while an intriguing prospect, remains far from the big leagues.
The Giants believed Moore could bounce back next year, and they never waffled with his 2018 option, even though at times it seemed they shouldn't pick it up. Team officials said this week that Moore was already in the Phoenix area working with new pitching coach Curt Young, and they expected big things.
Instead, Moore is headed to the Rangers and the Giants will dive back into the free agent market. They can fill their starting hole internally, with Ty Blach and Chris Stratton as holdovers and top pitching prospect Tyler Beede viewed as being big league ready. Left-hander Andrew Suarez also is close to being ready for a big league shot.
Wolff, 26, had a 2.98 ERA as a reliever in Double-A and Triple-A last season. Cruz is just 20 years old and spent last season in rookie ball. He is years away, but this was a deal made with 2018 in mind.
The Giants dealt from a rare area of strength, and now they'll have a chance to try to bolster a lineup that failed their starters, including Moore.