Matt Moore

Giants gain payroll flexibility, trade Matt Moore to Texas


Giants gain payroll flexibility, trade Matt Moore to Texas

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. 

Giants pick up options on Sandoval and two starting pitchers


Giants pick up options on Sandoval and two starting pitchers

SAN FRANCISCO — After the 2014 World Series, it was just about a lock that the Giants would eventually pick up Madison Bumgarner’s 2018 option. It also seemed a lock that they would never again pick up a Pablo Sandoval option year. On Monday, both things became official. 

On a conference call to introduce two coaching hires, general manager Bobby Evans confirmed that the club has picked up Bumgarner’s $12 million option, Matt Moore’s $9 million option and Sandoval’s option that will pay him the league minimum. The Red Sox, who designated Sandoval for assignment in the summer, are on the hook for the rest of that deal. 

Bumgarner is set for another opening day start and Moore is looking forward to putting a brutal 2017 season behind him, one that did not deter Evans from saying in September that he would bring the lefty back. Both those players are set for big roles, but Sandoval’s immediate future is a bit cloudier. 

Vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean said finding an everyday third baseman is one of the focus areas of the offseason. It does not sound like Sandoval is currently in line to be that guy. He hit .225 with five homers in 160 at-bats, but showed flashes of his old self by homering off Kenley Jansen and Max Scherzer and hitting a walk-off on the final day of the season.

“We saw enough to be intrigued to bring him into camp and see how the chips fall,” Sabean said. “Having said that, if you’re going back to what the questions are and how we look at how we reconstruct, we have to have someone more prototypical or run-production oriented.”

The Sandoval situation is a simple one. He is essentially a free veteran at this point, and if he shows up in Scottsdale out of shape or doesn't perform, the Giants can cut the cord without paying any financial penalty. If he shows improvement, they could have a versatile bat for their bench. 

The Giants hoped to have more solid internal options going into the spring, but Ryder Jones had a rough rookie debut and Christian Arroyo’s injury problems continue. Arroyo’s winter ball experience was cut short because he had a new plate inserted in a hand that required season-ending surgery during the minor league season. Arroyo is expected to be ready for the start of spring training. 

Matt Moore blanks Rockies, continues late-season surge


Matt Moore blanks Rockies, continues late-season surge

SAN FRANCISCO — Matt Moore knew there was something different about his final home start at AT&T Park this season, and not just the fact that he received a loud ovation as he walked off the mound in the seventh. Moore noted later that the outing was the first shutout he has been a part of this year. In fact, it was the first time in 30 starts that he walked off the mound without having allowed a run. 

“I guess it’s better late than never,” he said. 

The Giants are hoping it’s actually a preview of things to come. They counted on Moore to be a big part of their 2017 push, but instead, he likely will finish with the worst ERA of any full-time starter in the National League. Still, general manager Bobby Evans has informed Moore that his 2018 option will be picked up, something that Moore appreciated given the time of year. 

“I always pictured myself here,” he said. 

Whether coincidence or some kind of “weight off the shoulders” situation, Moore’s first start since the public revealing of the decision was his most encouraging of the year. Facing a good lineup, and a team that needed a win desperately, he pitched six shutout innings. The Giants beat the Rockies 4-0. 

Moore was already showing signs of life, with a 3.76 ERA over his seven previous appearances. Bruce Bochy viewed this as another step forward. 

“It’s been getting better and better with each start,” he said. “What he did really well today was on the arm side. He had good balance to both sides of the plate.”

Moore peppered the outside corner with fastballs, and he credited catcher Nick Hundley with stealing a few strikes. The plan allowed Moore to put hitters away in big spots, one of three points of emphasis he brought into the second half. The other two: limiting lefties and getting ahead of hitters.

That’s Moore’s roadmap back to being the player the Giants acquired. For the team as a whole, the roadmap back to relevance is similar to Wednesday’s plan. This is not a home-run hitting lineup, but the Giants are 47-21 when scoring four runs, and Wednesday was a reminder of the different paths to that magical number. 

Brandon Crawford had a solo homer, but the first two runs came on sacrifice flies and the fourth on a walk-wild pitch-single combination. Bochy said he liked “the brand of ball” his team played.

“They executed so well today,” he said. “It’s just good baseball, and that’s what I felt good about.”