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Matt Moore pitched nine seasons in the big leagues, started playoff games for two franchises, and made an All Star team.
But in the fall of 2019 — after a season when the left-hander logged just 10 innings with Detroit — his options were limited.
He led the National League in losses with 15 in 2017 and lost his rotation job in 2018 before knee surgery ended his 2019 season after two starts. Free-agent interest was tepid, but Moore wanted a full-time role to prove himself.
“The best opportunity just happened to be Japan,” Moore said.
So Moore took a one-year deal in Japan, made 15 starts in the country’s top league, and posted a 2.65 ERA, enough for the Phillies to sign him to a one-year contract worth $3 million. He will enter spring training as a near certainty to be in the starting rotation, which could include six starters as the team tries to manage playing 102 more games than it played in 2020.
If so, the 31-year-old Moore comes well adjusted. He pitched in a six-man rotation for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, who won their league by 14 games en route to winning the Japan Series. Moore logged seven scoreless innings in Game 3 of a four-game sweep of the Yomiuri Giants.