The Texas Rangers this season are trying to bring to an end a stretch of six straight losing seasons. It is the longest stretch of losing seasons in franchise history. Over these last six seasons the Rangers have made plenty of trades to bring players in and ship players out. They have signed several free agents and let several walk away in free agency. Some of these decisions have led directly to the mess in the bullpen that we see today.
I could really talk about upwards of five or more players, but I want to really focus this article on two players who were not retained. These two players are bullpen pitchers who if they were here today would be the two best relievers on this Rangers team. I am going to look into the circumstances that surrounded Matt Moore's departure and eventual signing with the Los Angeles Angels as well as the spring training that saw Jordan Romano not make the team and eventually end up as closer for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Texas Rangers Regret #1: Matt Moore
Matt Moore was signed by Texas shortly after the lockout ended in March 2022. He was a former starting pitcher that had a run of bad seasons from 2015-2021. He agreed to come to Texas and pitch out of the bullpen. He had previously been a starter for the Rangers back in 2018. This time around Moore was more successful than the first time around.
He started off the season pitching mostly in the sixth or seventh innings. He was an early-season revelation as a reliever. He was so successful that manager Chris Woodward promoted him to be a late-innings reliever early on in the season. In the first half he had a 1.73 ERA, was striking out 9.9 batters per nine innings. He also had finished eight games and had one save. By any measure, he was pitching very well. Throughout the first half of the season he was the best reliever for the Rangers.
The team was not winning enough and at the trade deadline, the Rangers did entertain conversations on trading Moore. He was a free agent to be and the Rangers as in previous seasons were in young talent acquisition mode. They had already traded Matt Bush in the days before the deadline. It seemed like Matt Moore and Martin Perez would also be traded.
The trade deadline came and went and Moore and Perez remained on the team. There followed a trade deadline press conference. It was led by Chris Young and Jon Daniels. They explained their reasoning on keeping both. Chris Young mentioned how this now gave them an exclusive negotiating period to talk extension with both players.
Then it was radio silence. The final two months of the season came and went. Chris Woodward was fired and Tony Beasley was promoted to interim manager. That same week Jon Daniels was let go and Chris Young took over his responsibilities. Lot of puzzle pieces were moving around and despite rumors of extension talks with Moore and Perez nothing came of it. The season ended and neither had agreed to a contract extension.
October then came and the Rangers had one final month before free agency officially got underway. They hired Bruce Bochy as manager. Still nothing on the Moore and Perez front. The Astros won the World Series and then in the days after free agency got underway and Moore and Perez were officially free agents. The team extended Perez the qualifying offer and he accepted. Moore was allowed to shop around.
The Rangers ended up signing Jacob deGrom, Andrew Heaney, and Nathan Eovaldi by the end of the year. Chris Young was asked about Matt Moore in December during Andrew Heaney's introductory press conference and this is what he said according to Inside the Rangers.
"We remain open to that, we would welcome that, but we recognize his market is going to be strong, it is strong and we'll see how it plays out"- Chris Young
He reiterated that same thought later in the month during a conference call announcing the signing of Nathan Eovaldi. Despite the talk of a strong market for Moore he remained unsigned as pitchers and catchers were reporting in the middle of February.
Texas at any time could have likely engaged and come to an agreement with Matt Moore, but instead he signed a one year and 7.75 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels. He has more than backed up his success from 2022. He has made 19 appearances for the Angels and has been scored upon in only three of those appearances. That is good for a 1.23 ERA, and he is mainly pitching the seventh and eighth innings for Los Angeles.
There has been no word since he signed from Moore or the Rangers if there were ever serious talks about Moore coming back. The Rangers before Moore signed had three left-handed relievers with Brock Burke, Taylor Hearns, and Brett Martin who they felt comfortable with. It has not worked out as expected. Burke has taken a step back as he is allowing more home runs this season, Hearns struggled with control issues and was sent down to Round Rock, and Martin has missed the entire season with a shoulder injury.
If the Rangers had chose to keep Moore it would have given them another reliable arm in the late innings.Alas, they chose to let him walk for nothing. It was a regrettable move not in hindsight, but at the time it was happening as well.