Royals rumors indicate the team is interested in Tampa Bay Rays lefty starter Matt Moore, according to Boston Globe reporter Nick Cafardo. The KC Royals are one of a long list of suitors for Moore, along with the Red Sox, Rangers, Dodgers, Yankees, Orioles, and Astros.
The 27-year-old Moore recently impressed scouts by holding the Red Sox scoreless over 7.0 innings last Wednesday, allowing 3 hits, 2 walks, and striking out 7. However, it hasn’t been an impressive season by any stretch of the imagination for Moore, who is 4-5, with a 4.67 ERA in 16 starts this year.
Moore was one of the top young pitchers in the game after he posted a 17-4, 3.29 ERA season in 2013 at age 24. He tore his ulnar collateral ligament in early 2014, and returned to make 12 starts in 2015. The hope is that Moore is finally rounding into form two years after his Tommy John surgery.
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Moore burst on the scene at age 22, when the Rays started him in the American League Division Series against Texas in 2011 despite pitching in only three regular season games in his career at that point (one start). Moore appeared in two post-season games (one start), allowing one earned run in 10.0 innings pitched with 8 strikeouts.
This early success caused Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com to rate Matt Moore the game’s top prospect before the 2012 season, with Baseball America ranking him second behind some guy named Bryce Harper. Did you catch that boys and girls? Both Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com considered Moore a better prospect than Bryce Harper before the 2012 season. All three publications put Moore ahead of Mike Trout.
Moore’s development, along with prospects Alex Cobb and Chris Archer, allowed the Tampa Bay Rays to deal James Shields and Wade Davis to the KC Royals before the 2013 season in exchange for Wil Myers, Mike Montgomery, Jake Odorizzi, and Patrick Leonard.
While Moore never quite lived up to those lofty projections, he still was a top-of-the rotation lefty before tearing his UCL. If he is finally healthy, Moore could provide the Kansas City Royals substantial help down the stretch. The best part is that Moore isn’t just a short-term solution. Moore’s contract includes three team options for $7 million, $9 million, and $10 million after the 2016 season.
That’s really quite reasonable given that teams are spending about $8 million per WAR (Wins Above Replacement) on the open market these days.
At this point, a healthy Moore would slot behind Danny Duffy as the KC Royals no. 2 pitcher. The question is, of course, was Moore’s start against the Red Sox just a blip? Or was it the beginning of his return to health? The Kansas City Royals, and Moore’s other suitors, will attempt to answer that question in the four weeks or so remaining before the August 1 trade deadline.