Posted on December 16, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine

San Francisco Giants Matt Moore

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The Texas Rangers continue to work hard this offseason rebuilding their starting rotation. Their most recent acquisition may be their best of the winter. Texas has acquired lefty Matt Moore from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for pitching prospects Israel Cruz and Sam Wolff, as well as international bonus pool money. Moore figures to be a significant addition to the Texas starting rotation.

The Giants acquired Moore from the Rays at the trade deadline in 2016. Moore helped with San Francisco’s playoff push that year but then took a big step back this past season. In 2017, Moore was 6-15 with a 5.52 ERA. However, his track record says Moore will be able to bounce back next year. At age 28, Moore should have plenty of productive big league seasons left. He’ll make $10 million in 2018 and also has a $10 million option for the 2019 season.

Moore will be the third addition the Rangers have made to their rotation this winter. Texas has also signed free agents Doug Fister and Mike Minor. The three newcomers will join Cole Hamels and Martin Perez in forming the Texas rotation in 2018. If that rotation stands, the Rangers will have four lefties in their starting-five with Fister being the only righty. With Minor having success as a reliever last year, it’s possible the Rangers continue to look for another impactful starter. However, they signed Minor with the intention of having him in their rotation.

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As for the Giants, they appeared motivated to make this trade as a way to free up payroll. With the money saved by trading Moore, the Giants may make a serious effort to sign one of the frontline starters on the market like Yu Darvish or Jake Arrieta. There are also reports that San Francisco would like to trade Hunter Pence to get his salary off the books. However, Pence has a full no-trade clause, so that could be difficult to pull off.

Neither prospect the Giants have acquired in the trade are considered major products. Cruz is just 20 years old and pitched at rookie ball in 2017. Wolff, however, does have a chance in the big leagues, although he offers little upside. He posted a 2.38 ERA in triple-A last season. He may be able to contribute out of the San Francisco bullpen in 2018.

Of course, after trading Moore, the Giants appear to have one or two openings in their rotation. Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, and Jeff Samardzija will anchor San Francisco’s rotation in 2018. But beyond that trio, there are some question marks. At the moment, Chris Stratton and Ty Blach would likely be the two pitchers to round out the rotation. Prospects like Tyler Beede, Andrew Suarez, and Joan Gregorio could also be in the mix and provide depth. However, it’s possible that the Giants moved Moore with the intention of finding an elite starter to pair with Bumgarner at the top of the rotation.

If the Giants end up signing a top-flight starter this winter, this trade will end up being a smart move for them. If not, then the absence of Moore could end up having a negative impact if their younger starters are unable to fill the void next season. Meanwhile, the Rangers make a positive addition to their starting rotation without giving up too much. Obviously, Moore needs to have a bounce-back season for the trade to work in their favor. But there’s every chance Moore will make a positive impact on the Texas rotation next season.

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