3:09pm: The Marlins have recalled Tommy Nance from Triple-A and placed him on the 60-day injured list, thus opening up a 40-man roster spot for Matt Moore, reports Jordan McPherson of the Miami Herald. The 32-year-old Nance last appeared for Triple-A Jacksonville on September 6, and he has not appeared in a major league game since last October.
1:35pm: The Marlins have claimed left-hander Matt Moore off waivers from the Guardians, reports Jeff Passan of ESPN. It’s the second waiver claim in recent weeks for Moore, who just went from the Angels to the Guardians at the end of August. He won’t be eligible to play in the postseason for the Marlins but will give their bullpen a boost for the final weeks of the regular season.
Moore, 34, has had an up-and-down career as a starting pitching but recently underwent a bullpen renaissance. He posted a 1.95 earned run average with the Rangers last year and parlayed that into a one-year, $7.55MM contract with the Angels. His ERA has ticked up a bit this year, but is still quite good at 2.77. He’s striking out 28.5% of opponents and walking just 7%.
He’s now set to join his third club of the year, which says more about his teams than anything he is doing. The Angels hovered around contention through the summer and decided to go for it at the deadline, holding onto Shohei Ohtani as well as giving up prospects for players like Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo López and others. But they then suffered a miserable August, losing both games and players. They fell back in the standings as Mike Trout was unable to get healthy in the wake of his hamate surgery, while Ohtani suffered a tear of his ulnar collateral ligament that kept him from pitching.
Ohtani would also suffer an oblique injury in September that stopped him from hitting as well, but that was after the club had already waved the white flag on the season, putting six players on waivers at the end of August. Since the trade deadline had already passed and each player was an impending free agent, the Angels were hoping other clubs would grab them and take on their contracts, allowing the club to save some money and dip under the luxury tax.
Moore was one of those players and he was claimed by the Guardians along with Giolito and López. It was a bit of a surprising landing spot, as that club has generally shied away from significant spending and were sporting a record of 64-70 at the time. But in the weak American League Central, they were actually only five games back of the division-leading Twins and decided to take a shot. By grabbing those three pitchers, they added roughly $3.727MM to their payroll but hopefully increased their odds of chasing down Minnesota.
But it now seems that they are following the Angels and waving their own white flag, having fallen to seven games back of the Twins with now less than two weeks left to play. It wasn’t known prior to this report that Moore was on waivers, but it seems the Guards put him on the wire with the hope of shaving off some of that money they took on. Moore is still owed about $529K for the remainder of the season.
It seems the Marlins consider that to be an acceptable expense for a handful of games from Moore. Since he is being acquired after the September 1 cutoff date, he won’t be able to pitch for them in the postseason, making this a very temporary bullpen upgrade. But unlike the Angels and Guardians, their season is still very much alive. The National League Wild Card race is extremely tight right now, with the Phillies in the top spot but a tangled mess beneath them. The Diamondbacks, Cubs, Reds and Marlins are all within one game of each other, with the Giants just a game and a half back of that pack. While all those clubs want to win, the Marlins are arguably the most motivated. Leaving aside the shortened 2020 season, they haven’t finished above .500 since 2009 and haven’t been in the playoffs since 2003.
Miami’s relievers have a collective ERA of 4.19 on the year, which places them 18th. It’s also been a bit worse of late, with a 4.45 ERA since the start of August. Adding in Moore will hopefully give the group a bit of a boost, though it’s not really about his left-handedness. The club already has four strong southpaw options in the bullpen but the Marlins seem to have decided they are willing to put some cash on the barrel in the hopes of squeezing out any possible upgrade, with the importance of each game magnified down the stretch.