CLEVELAND — As new Guardians pitcher Matt Moore turned around and saw a golf course attendant driving down the middle of the fairway behind him, he thought he had done something wrong or broken some rule.
Moore was playing at San Francisco Golf Club, a course where players aren’t supposed to have their cell phones out. The course also doesn’t allow carts, so it was particularly odd to see an attendant charging toward his group mid-round.
What Moore, who entered the day as a member of the Los Angeles Angels, didn’t know was the Guardians had just claimed him off waivers, along with Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez. And since he couldn’t have his phone on, he wasn’t yet aware of any of it.
“He was just running right down the middle of the fairway and I kind of felt I was in trouble but had a feeling somebody was going to tell me to make a call,” Moore said Friday, shortly after being added to the Guardians active roster.
He went on to shoot a 91, and joked he’ll blame it on the disturbance rather than the fact he hadn’t golfed in three months.
It was a strange scene in the middle of a wild travel week for Moore, Lopez and Giolito. All three were put on waivers by the Angels after their bid to go for it after the trade deadline fell flat.
The three pitchers played in Philadelphia on Wednesday, flew that night to San Francisco, were claimed by the Guardians around 1 p.m. Thursday and then flew right back to Cleveland, all in less than 24 hours.
“Yeah, you’d want to avoid that type [of travel],” Moore said, cracking a smile. “I got on the place later that evening, about 11 p.m. [to fly to Cleveland], got in about 6:30 this morning, got over to the place we’re staying maybe around 7:30 or so. So I was able to get relatively good sleep until about 1 o’clock.”
The best part? They’ll be flying right back to San Francisco in less than a week when the Guardians travel for a road series against the Angels and San Francisco Giants. Moore joked he can pick up a few of things he forgot in California.
Moore and Lopez, who will join Cleveland’s bullpen, were added to the active roster before Friday’s 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays. Right-handed pitcher Peyton Battenfield and catcher Eric Haase were designed for assignment. On Friday, the Guardians also optioned Hunter Gaddis and Cody Morris to Triple-A, recalled Jose Tena and activated Cal Quantrill and David Fry off the injured list, which was possible due to Sept. 1 roster expansion.
Guardians swinging for the fences with three waiver claims geared for September run
The Guardians are still hustling down the line.
Despite a borderline brutal rest-of-the-way schedule, a banged up roster (Shane Bieber, Triston McKenzie and Josh Naylor all remain on the injured list), a trade deadline that offered strong long-term value but didn’t exactly help their 2023 chances and a five-game deficit in the standings entering this weekend, the Guardians refuse to go down quietly.
The Angels, who have somehow fumbled the last few seasons with Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout on the roster, waived five players simply in an effort to cut salary while their second half has gone nowhere. The Guardians went after three of them and claimed all three, bolstering their pitching staff with the additions of Giolito, Moore and Lopez.
The Guardians’ chances of catching the Twins remain a long shot. But Cleveland’s three-game series against the Twins next week suddenly has much more intrigue than it did a few days ago.
Major League Baseball’s waiver process allows teams to claim players in reverse order of the standings. The Guardians claiming Giolito, Moore and Lopez doesn’t just give their pitching staff a boost, it also stopped the Twins from being able to claim any of them.
“I mean, I came in here I think about 12:30 [Thursday] and they said we’ll know at 1 [p.m.] who, if any, we got,” manager Terry Francona said. “And they’re like, ‘We got ’em all.'”
At the trade deadline, the Guardians dealt shortstop Amed Rosario to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard. Both players can enter free agency this winter, and Cleveland was in need of the starting pitcher depth more than a shortstop with Tyler Freeman and Gabriel Arias available.
Not long after, Aaron Civale was dealt to the Tampa Bay Rays for Kyle Manzardo, a top-40 prospect across baseball who figures to play a major part in Clevelands’ 2024 lineup.
After Syndergaard was designated for assignment, Giolito now effectively replaces Civale. Giolito posted three consecutive seasons with an ERA between 3.41 and 3.53 from 2019-21 before struggling in 2022 (4.90 ERA). This year, he had a 3.79 ERA with the White Sox before struggling with the Angels in six starts (6.89 ERA).
Moore offers the Guardians a shut-down lefty. He posted a 1.95 ERA with a 10.1 K/9 rate in 2022 and has a 2.66 ERA and 10.0 K/9 rate this season. Lopez gives the Guardians extended bullpen depth. He has a 2.77 ERA with a 13.2 K/9 rate in 2023.
And Giolito’s first start with the Guardians? That’ll be Monday in what is now a crucial game against the Twins as Cleveland hopes to close the gap.
“I mean, since you don’t have a crystal ball, I think we appreciate the fact that the guys are trying to give us some help to see if we can remain relevant in this thing,” Francona said. “We still have an uphill fight, which we know, but they’re trying to give us a better chance, which I think everybody appreciates.
“I never in a million years thought it’d be three guys. I think Paul [Dolan], I know Paul catches some flak from time to time, and I hope people realize that this doesn’t happen without him.”
Ryan Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more about the Guardians at www.beaconjournal.com/sports/cleveland-guardians. Follow him on Twitter at @ByRyanLewis.