SAN FRANCISCO–Matt Moore’s agent called him on Saturday morning, but the left-hander didn’t pick up the phone.
It didn’t take long for Moore to call him back, though.
On Saturday morning, Moore’s girlfriend Anna was scrolling through social media when she saw a Los Angeles Times story featuring a quote from San Francisco Giants’ general manager Bobby Evans.
“We’ll pick up his option,” Evans told reporter Bill Shaikin, when discussing Moore.
That quote, of course, is in reference to Moore’s $9 million club option for the 2018 season that appeared to be in jeopardy given the struggles Moore has endured this season.
So when Moore saw Evans’ quote, it didn’t take him long to connect with his agent, and discuss the news.
“It makes me very happy,” Moore said. “Obviously it’s not been the type of season that myself or any people were expecting. Obviously it doesn’t have to be this early for him to announce something like that so it is nice.”
At $9 million, Moore is a relatively cheap starting pitcher, but because of a 5.39 earned run average and a high walk rate, Moore wasn’t sure the decision from the Giants would come so quickly. In fact, hearing the news with two weeks to go in the season wasn’t just a weight off of his shoulders, it was a pleasant surprise.
“It definitely did take me by surprise and it was just something really cool to kind of see because it’s probably a month and a half before they even have to do anything,” Moore said.
On Saturday afternoon, Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy said that he didn’t think Moore needed a confidence boost, but he did call Moore an important part of the team’s future. Next season, the Giants plan to have Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija man the top three spots in their rotation, and now, the club expects Moore to lock down the fourth starter’s role.
“It’s always good for a player to get that news and know that a club wants him and we want him,” Bochy said. “He’s a big part of our future so hopefully that does send that message so I’m sure he’ll be glad because I think a lot of Matt and granted, it hasn’t been the best year for all of us and I think it’s fair to say for him individually. But I think some of his more recent outings that we’re seeing more of the Matt that we know.”
Moore knows as well as anyone that his performance this season leaves plenty to be desired, and he indicated that the franchise’s decision to pick up his option for the 2018 season is a sign that Giants’ management knows he’s capable of performing at a much higher level. Last season, Moore recorded a 4.08 ERA in 12 starts after being traded from Tampa Bay, but for the majority of the summer this year, he sported the National League’s highest ERA among starting pitchers.
“I think it’s a big tip of confidence coming my way from the front office just understanding that this isn’t who I am,” Moore said. “Obviously we’re planning on being much better next year and a lot more competitive and that means that I’m going to be a part of that. Internally I’ve been able to keep going and keep chugging along and keep doing my job regardless of what’s going on on the field. I’m doing my best to just have the shortest memory I can to just go back out there and try to compete and get us in a good spot to win the game. This is something very nice and obviously they didn’t have to do it so it was a nice surprise.”
Bochy said the Giants have been encouraged by what the team has seen out of Moore lately, and Moore’s numbers back up that sentiment. In three September appearances, Moore’s recorded a 4.15 ERA, which is slightly below his career 4.23 ERA. With two-to-three starts remaining, Moore said he wants to continue to move in the right direction, so that come Spring Training, he’s able to make all of the improvements he deems necessary.
“There’s a ton of stuff,” Moore said. “It’s not so much a mechanical thing. I think it’s in-game adjustments to make sure that I’m, my shutdown innings have probably been as bad as they’ve been at any level since I’ve been playing baseball and obviously, when we do put up runs, I have to go out there and shut the inning down right after that. My walk rate is still way higher than I’d like to have it and I think just cleaning up the walk rate is really going to take care of some of the other numbers that are going to contribute to us winning the game.”