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Matt Moore Rumors
The Rays will demote Matt Moore to Triple-A Durham on Monday, as MLB.com’s Bill Chastain writes. Moore has struggled at the Major League level this season and the Rays hope that a stint in the minors will help him get back on track. The move also gives Tampa Bay the opportunity to go with a four-man rotation.
“One, this is the first time we’ve had an opportunity to go to a four-man rotation,” manager Kevin Cash said. “It’s definitely not fair to ask Matt Moore to go into the bullpen. We need to get his innings on a consistent track, because that factors into what he’s capable of doing next year for us. But most importantly, we need to get Matt back to being the guy that he is. We know, as an organization going forward, he’s a huge part of what we’re doing. And I think this stability, keeping him on his five days, will help.”
Moore, a top prospect who emerged as a budding star in 2012 and 2013, has been battling his way back from a UCL replacement. So far in 2015, he has not looked like the same pitcher, posting an 8.78 ERA with 5.7 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9. With some time in the Rays’ farm system, the club hopes that he can get closer to his old form. In 2013, Moore earned his first All-Star appearance and posted a 3.29 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9.
As expected, Reds starter Homer Bailey underwent Tommy John surgery today, as MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports. Though his previously-repaired flexor mass tendon apepared in good shape, Bailey’s UCL was determined to be completely torn, leaving little in the way of options to avoid surgery.
- Likewise, Rays righty Alex Cobb was found to have a fully torn UCL, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports, meaning he too was virtually assured to require a TJ procedure. Cobb says the best-case scenario would have him return late in 2016. Fellow Tampa hurler Matt Moore has continued to build his way back from his own UCL replacement, with MLB.com’s Bill Chastain reporting that Moore was able to throw all of his pitches in a live BP session. Moore says he is targeting a mid-June return to the big league bump.
- Though his shoulder has shown some evidence of progress, Rangers lefty Derek Holland will wait an additional two weeks before he begins throwing, as Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets. Though Texas has enjoyed a somewhat surprising contribution from its starting staff (3.71 ERA, 9th in baseball), peripherals suggest that some regression is forthcoming. Regardless, Holland’s health is critical to the club, both this year and — perhaps even more so — in the future.
- Orioles catcher Matt Wieters is set to catch seven innings tomorrow as he continues to work fully back from Tommy John surgery, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets. Wieters’ ability to return to health and productivity will go a long way toward determining his free agent earning power next winter, of course. It will also tell on Baltimore’s ability to compete for a postseason slot, though replacement Caleb Joseph has been a revelation.
- The Mariners appear unlikely to see righty Hisashi Iwakuma return until early June, at the soonest, per Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. Manager Lloyd McClendon says that Iwakuma is “probably still two to three weeks from going out [on a rehab assignment]” and will then need to throw a few outings before making it back to the big leagues. As with Wieters, Iwakuma needs to get healthy and show that he can continue to be effective in order to bolster his open market case. The scuffling Mariners, meanwhile, are not only firmly in need of his services, but also must assess whether they will be in the market for rotation help over the summer.
- Red Sox outfielder Hanley Ramirez is not likely to need a DL stint for his left shoulder sprain, manager John Farrell tells Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe (Twitter link). Boston seems to have dodged a bullet with the injury situation, as the club can ill afford an extended absence from the player who has paced the club in hitting thus far.
Here’s the latest from Tampa Bay…
- Yoan Moncada took part in a private workout for Rays officials at Tropicana Field on Wednesday, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Despite the Rays’ interest in Moncada, it is widely expected that they will be outbid given the widespread interest in the Cuban phenom.
- Left-hander Matt Moore threw off a mound on Tuesday of this week for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery, reports Topkin. Moore made 15 tosses from halfway up the bullpen mound at Tropicana Field and said the session couldn’t have gone better. Moore says he is targeting a return to the Tampa rotation sometime in June. In the meantime, trade acquisition Nate Karns and prospect Alex Colome should battle to hold down the fifth slot behind Alex Cobb, Drew Smyly, Jake Odorizzi and Chris Archer.
- The Rays’ minor league signing of Everett Teaford is yet another example of how the organization focuses on pitchers who throw high fastballs, Fangraphs’ Jeff Sullivan writes. Tampa generally either pursues pitchers with rising fastballs or tries to add the pitch to a hurler’s arsenal after the club acquires him, as was the case with Drew Smyly last season.
The Yankees may not have stowed away their checkbook, as MLB.com’s Barry Bloom reports. Owner Hal Steinbrenner told reporters yesterday that time remained for moves. “It’s not over until it’s over,” he said. “We still have a full month before Spring Training. … [W]e’re still the New York Yankees, all you guys know that. We know what the fans expect. We know what the town expects. We’re not going to be afraid to spend money.”
- If the Yankees are still the Yankees, then so too are the Rays still the Rays. As Andrew Astleford of FOX Sports Florida writes, trading away Ben Zobrist is just the latest reminder of the team’s continued strategies. “These trades are difficult, but they’re a necessary part of how we operate,” said president of baseball operations Matthew Silverman.
- One other hallmark of the Rays method is early-career extensions, and one area of risk in such deals is injury, especially for pitchers. Lefty Matt Moore, who is controllable through 2019 under just such a contract, lost virtually all of last season due to Tommy John surgery. He is in a good physical and mental state, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, and hopes to return to the mound soon while building toward a return to the roster this coming June.
- Topkin also wonders (via Twitter) whether the Braves and Rays could be a match on outfielder David DeJesus. The veteran is owed $5MM this year and a $1MM buyout on a 2016 option, which makes him a reasonably priced target but also does not leave him with a ton of trade value.
- Though Orioles owner Peter Angelos threw cold water yesterday on the idea that momentum was building toward a deal that would result in executive VP Dan Duquette taking over the Blue Jays‘ front office, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says that the possibility still remains. If nothing else, Duquette wants the job in Toronto, per the report, which chalks up the Angelos statement to negotiating tactics.
- The Mets should make a hard push to acquire shortstop Ian Desmond from the Nationals, Rosenthal argues in the same piece. The recently-acquired Yunel Escobar provides an alternative to Desmond in D.C., and Rosenthal suggests that including Daniel Murphy and adding prospect value could make the trade palatable for the Nats. While I would not write off the idea entirely, it would seem likely that the Nationals would demand a particularly significant return to move Desmond to a rising division rival.
- Staying in the division, Rosenthal says that the Braves should deal away closer Craig Kimbrel. The righty is an expensive luxury for a non-contending team, says Rosenthal, who does note that the club might get better value for him at the trade deadline. That may well be, but it would be interesting to see what teams would give up now for one of the game’s most dominant arms; I’m guessing quite a bit. For its part, Atlanta is “optimistic about the coming season” and has no interest in dealing away Kimbrel, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman tweets.
- The ship has sailed at this point, of course, but Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution opines that the Braves may not have been in need of such a dramatic renovation. While the plan to re-build around young pitching obviously makes sense directionally, Bradley argues that the team now looks destined to be rather dreadful for the next season or two and wonders whether a less drastic plan could have been pursued.
APRIL 14: Moore will undergo Tommy John surgery, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The young hurler said that he decided to have the procedure after experiencing discomfort while throwing this afternoon. "What was coming out, it's a shame to be have to be shut down right now but it just wasn't comfortable," Moore said. "Being stuck in the position I am right now, where it's not exactly comfortable but it's not exactly completely broke, it's kind of one of those things where you know it's going to get worse."
APRIL 10: Moore, the team, and the doctors they've consulted are still assessing the injury and the options, according to the updated report from Topkin. "What [executive VP Andrew Friedman] wanted to do was discuss it in more depth [today] based on the results as we get them," Maddon said. "We need to get all the facts and see how we want to proceed with this, see if surgery is necessary, if it's not necessary, we're still waiting to find out."
A contrast-aided MRI conducted yesterday is expected to help provide answers. One question, according to Topkin, is whether all or part of the damage was pre-existing, which will require comparison to past scans. "I don't think it's fully torn from what I understand," said Maddon, "but I don't know that. The test with the dye would probably be more conclusive."
APRIL 9: Rays manager Joe Maddon said that it is "not a slam dunk surgery right now" after Moore's tests and consultations today, tweets Topkin. Discussions about how to proceed will continue tomorrow.
APRIL 8: The injury that drove Rays starter Matt Moore from his start yesterday involves his UCL, reports Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (Twitter links). Moore, 24, will see Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion, as was reported earlier today.
UCL tears are commonly associated with the Tommy John procedure, of course, as that is the surgical option in the event of a tear. As Passan notes, pitchers can occastionally attempt to rehab and pitch through a tear if it is minor enough, though in that situation any delay would push back the timetable in the event that surgery is ultimately necessary.
The club had sounded optimistic earlier this morning, but the outlook apparently took a downturn as the day went along, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweeted earlier this evening. Moore, one of the most promising young arms in the game, is in the midst of a five-year, $14MM extension that also includes three option years covering the 2017-19 seasons. Though Tampa has options to fill in for him in the near term — including Nate Karns and Erik Bedard — the team is already dealing with the loss of Jeremy Hellickson for the early part of the season and the suspension of prospect Alex Colome.
Needless to say, the season has gotten of to a rough start in terms of injury news. Offering some hope, perhaps, Baseball America's J.J. Cooper writes (answering a reader question) that two-time Tommy John patients have a better track record of recovery than is perhaps commonly thought. Here's the latest on a few situations around the league that have (or could have had) hot stove implications:
- Rockies starter Brett Anderson is expected to be out for a lengthy stretch with a broken index finger, as he will need four to six weeks to recover before rehabbing, according to Thomas Harding of MLB.com (via Twitter). The 26-year-old, who has had more than his share of injury troubles in recent campaigns, will undergo surgery to have pins inserted in the finger, according to Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post (via Twitter). Anderson was a major offseason acquisition for the Rockies, coming over in exchange for one-time top prospect Drew Pomeranz, who has been working out of the pen for the Athletics this year. Fortunately for Colorado, the team appears to have enough in-house options to cover in the meantime.
- Rays starter Matt Moore played catch today as he and the team assess whether the young lefty can avoid Tommy John surgery, according to a report from Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. "Actually [trainer Ron Porterfield] said he threw okay," said manager Joe Maddon, "but I'm waiting to hear back from him what the final analysis is. Nothing yet. [Porterfield] said he turned it loose a little bit too, so we'll see. That was probably a good test for him. The word pain was not used. [Porterfield] told me he actually threw the ball pretty good."
- For the Phillies, starter A.J. Burnett intends to pitch through a hernia, and the team will finally welcome back reliever Mike Adams from the DL in the coming days, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports. Adams was a major free agent addition last year, but threw only 25 innings of 3.96 ERA ball last year before going down to a labrum and rotator cuff tear. Adams' contract contains a $6MM club option for 2015 that would vest if he throws 60 innings this year, but that provision will be voided if he is not available on Opening Day next year because of the shoulder issues (since they arose before the end of the 2014 season).
- With the Yankees dealing with multiple injuries and uncertainty in the infield, the obvious question is whether the team will revisit the possibility of signing Stephen Drew. John Harper of the New York Daily News argues that the team should do just that, noting that Drew can upgrade up the middle this year while providing value in any future years he signs on for. But Wallace Mathews of ESPNNewYork.com reports cites a source who says that there is "no way" the team will sign Drew or fellow free agent Kendrys Morales.
- Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia got good news today, as he learned that his left wrist issues do not appear to be serious, Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe reported on Twitter. As fellow Herald reporter Scott Lauber reported later this afternoon, an MRI showed no structural damage that would warrant concern. The team has confirmed the reports while adding that closer Koji Uehara has no structural damage in his shoulder, Tim Britton of the Providence Journal tweets.
The situation with Matt Moore's UCL injury is still up in the air, as the southpaw is waiting to have his MRIs examined by the Rays' team orthopedic physician, Moore told reporters (including MLB.com's Bill Chastain). Moore may test his elbow by playing catch in a few days, though isn't going to push it. "If there's any pain, it's not going to be something I'm going to try and work through," Moore said. "I think the goal is to get to a place where I don't feel pain. And if I can get to that in the next few days just playing catch, then it's a good sign to keep going. If not, then it's a sign in the [other direction]. I'm optimistic about playing catch."
Here's some more from around the AL East…
- The Yankees have been fined by Major League Baseball for tampering due to comments made by team president Randy Levine in regards to Mike Trout, The Los Angeles Times' Bill Shaikin reports. The amount of the fine isn't known. Levine cited Trout last December when discussing why the Yankees didn't match the Mariners' 10-year contract offer for Robinson Cano, saying "If it was Mike Trout, I’d offer him a 10-year contract, but for people over 30, I don’t believe it makes sense.” The Angels took exception to Levine's comments and asked the Commissioner's office to investigate the matter.
- Injuries to Mark Teixeira and David Robertson have left the Yankees thin at first base and in the bullpen, two positions that were thought to be lacking in depth going into the season. GM Brian Cashman reiterated to reporters (including MLB.com's Bryan Hoch) that the two positions would be "a developing story" through the season as the team didn't have enough budget space to acquire additional depth in the offseason. "We wanted to fix as much as we could, but acknowledged that we couldn't fix everything that needed to be addressed," Cashman said. "That's with the money we were in position to spend as well as the available talent. The better talent was really heavily in favor of the outfield rather than the infield."
- The Blue Jays' seeming halt on payroll looks to be an ownership response to how none of GM Alex Anthopoulos' big additions from the 2012-13 offseason have yet panned out, Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star writes. Rogers Communications, the Jays' parent company, is essentially saying to Anthopoulos, in Griffin's words, "Show us that the group you brought in last year is as good as you said it was and maybe then we can talk about additions." Griffin also doesn't think the Jays will undergo an Astros-esque total rebuild since Rogers wants to keep the team competitive in order to maintain the Jays' strong viewership numbers on Rogers-owned media outlets.
- In AL East news from earlier today on MLBTR, we collected some Red Sox Notes, and also learned that the Red Sox, Rays and Yankees are three of the teams who are believed to be interested in Joel Hanrahan.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports hears that Royals GM Dayton Moore is "feeling the heat," in the sense that many want the team to use their prospect base to acquire veterans who can help them win now like the Blue Jays did with their recent blockbuster. Here's more from Rosenthal on Kansas City…
- Even after acquiring Ervin Santana, the Royals can still fit a free agent like Jeremy Guthrie into their payroll on a back-loaded, multiyear contract.
- The Mariners covet Billy Butler and would conceivably part with young, high-end pitching to acquire him. Butler is under contract through 2014 with a club option for 2015, though the Royals are unsure if they have enough offense to move him right now.
- The Rays like top prospect Wil Myers, though the Royals are conflicted about moving him even for a pitcher like Jeremy Hellickson or Matt Moore.
- The Astros could be another trade partner for Kansas City since the price to acquire Bud Norris or Lucas Harrell would be lower than it would be for Hellickson or Moore. The impact would be less too, however.
- Moore is under contract through 2014 and does not appear to be in danger of losing his job, says Rosenthal.
Of the nine players who received qualifying offers this offseason, Rafael Soriano is viewed within the game as having taken the biggest financial risk by declining according to Joel Sherman of The New York Post. Teams don't want to invest big in closers because of their volatility now more than ever, especially after year one of the Heath Bell contract. Here are the rest of Sherman's rumors…
- The Yankees are privately pleased that Soriano opted out of his $14MM salary for next season. They'll allocate those dollars elsewhere and could use a portion of it on a reliever to replace Soriano.
- The feeling at the GM Meetings was that the Rays are much more open to trading a starting pitcher for offense than they have been in the past. They would talk about James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson, Jeff Niemann, and even Matt Moore in the right deal.
- In the wake of Jason Bay's departure from the Mets, Sherman points out that Tyler Colvin (.150 AVG in 2011) and Andruw Jones (.158 AVG in 2008) are two recent examples of outfielders who turned things around following dreadful seasons. Bay hit .158 this year.
The Rays are saying they’d move any pitcher except David Price and Matt Moore, but Shields is the most likely one to be traded, Knobler tweets. The Angels have discussed a package that includes center fielder Peter Bourjos and catcher Hank Conger. However, they were rebuffed when they offered Bourjos for Shields, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports.
Shields earns $7MM in 2012 and his contract includes club options for 2013 ($9MM with a $1.5MM buyout) and 2014 ($12MM with a $1MM buyout). Shields, the third-place finisher in last year's AL Cy Young voting, has completed at least 200 innings in every one of his five full seasons. The 30-year-old has a 4.39 ERA with 8.5 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 131 1/3 innings so far in 2012.