MLB Trade Deadline: Texas Rangers, Tampa Bay Rays Discussing Matt Moore

Despite getting ace Yu Darvish back on Saturday, the Rangers are searching for upgrades to their starting rotation.

According to Yahoo! Sports‘ Jon Morosi, the Rangers and Rays have discussed a trade involving former American League All-Star Matt Moore. The talks between the two teams have also included relief pitchers as the Rangers seek to improve their bullpen.

In late June, Mark Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times wrote that Texas is “already hot on Moore’s trail.” While 2016 All-Star Cole Hamels (9-2, 3.21 ERA) has been outstanding, the Rangers have received inconsistent performances from the likes of Martin Perez (7-6, 4.05 ERA) and Cesar Ramos (3-3, 6.04 ERA). A.J. Griffin (3-1, 3.81 ERA), and Darvish (2-1, 3.15 ERA) have missed time due to injury.

Moore, 27, is in the midst of his first full season back from Tommy John surgery. In 18 starts for the Rays, Moore sports a 5-6 record with a 4.46 ERA in 109 innings. Moore pitched well against the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday, giving up just two earned runs and five hits in seven-and-one-third innings.

After a sterling 2013 campaign, going 17-4 with a 3.29 ERA in 27 starts for Tampa Bay, Moore suffered a torn ligament in his pitching elbow the following season. He returned from Tommy John surgery last year but struggled. The Fort Walton Beach, Florida, native went 3-4 with a 5.43 ERA in 12 starts last season.

While Moore’s numbers this year don’t stand out, he has shown improvement in various areas. Moore’s K/9 ratio sits at 8.0 while his BB/9 rate is a career-best 2.7.

In early June, Moore questioned the Rays’ decision to pull starting pitchers from games early on several occasions this year.

“I’m not questioning the moves they’re making, I’m just saying we do have more in the tank,” Moore said (via CBS Sports). “That if he does allow us to go out there for the sixth or the seventh or whatever inning it is, that we are going to be okay, that we are going to be able to compete in those moments.”

Moore has team options from 2017-2019 on his contract, meaning that any team that acquires him will have the option of retaining him for the next three seasons.

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The Rangers’ bullpen has been one of the worst in baseball this season. Per ESPN, Texas has a 5.06 ERA from its relief core, which ranks second-to-last in MLB, only trailing the Cincinnati Reds (5.71 ERA).

Outside of Matt Bush (3-1, 2.39 ERA) and closer Sam Dyson (2.59 ERA, 18 saves), the Rangers’ relievers have been abysmal.

Tampa Bay could offer closer Alex Colome, 27, who sports a 1.69 ERA with 19 saves for the club. Colome is under team control through 2021 so he brings a lot of value in a potential trade. Swingman Erasmo Ramirez also may be of interest as he owns a 7-7 record with a 4.12 ERA through 36 games (one start). Ramirez, 26, is under team control through 2020.

After the Rays’ AL East division rival Boston Red Sox acquired Drew Pomeranz this week for top prospect Anderson Espinoza, the market was set. To acquire top-tier pitching — with several years of team control — teams will have to part with elite prospects. While Moore has struggled to remain consistent following TJ surgery, his last few starts have been good indicators that he’s turned a corner.

[Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images]