No. 1 pitching prospect Matt Moore joining Rays as reliever

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Matt Moore, the 23-year-old stud pitching prospect who last week finished runner-up to Mike Trout for Baseball America‘s minor league player of the year award, is on his way to Tampa Bay.

With their Wild Card deficit down to 3.5 games the Rays have decided the time is right for Moore to make his big-league debut and the left-hander’s agent told Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com that he’s expected to fill a bullpen role initially.

Moore projects as a top-of-the-rotation starter and threw 155 innings with a 1.92 ERA, .184 opponents’ batting average, and 210/46 K/BB ratio between Double-A and Triple-A, but the Rays envision him making an immediate impact as a reliever much like David Price did down the stretch (and into the playoffs) in 2008.

Price then, like Moore now, was called up in mid-September after dominating in the minors and made four relief appearances and one start for the Rays, throwing 14 innings with a 1.93 ERA and 12/4 K/BB ratio. And then he made five more appearances as a reliever in the playoffs, finishing all five games while allowing one earned run in 6.2 innings.

With closer Kyle Farnsworth sidelined by an elbow injury manager Joe Maddon told Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times: “We’ve got be very open-minded and flexible right now. We can’t have any kind of set parameters. We just can’t.”

The Cards dealt Stephen Piscotty to the A’s, in part, so he could be near his ailing mother

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Last night we wrote about the rumored deal between the Cardinals and the Athletics for Stephen Piscotty. The deal is now official, with Piscotty going to Oakland for minor leaguers Yairo Munoz and Max Schrock.

Something else emerged about the deal today: a big reason why St. Louis traded Piscotty to Oakland as opposed to another team was so that he could be near his mother, who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease last May. Piscotty and his family are from Pleasanton, California, about 35 miles from Oakland.

Here’s Cardinals GM John Mozeliak:

This was certainly a baseball trade — Piscotty became expendable for the Cardinals after they acquired Marcell Ozuna yesterday — but it was one which could’ve been made with any team with a couple of red or white chip prospects. That Mozeliak considered Piscotty’s personal situation in making the deal with the A’s is a credit to him and his staff.

The 26-year-old Piscotty hit .235 with nine homers and 39 RBIs in 107 games last season. He has hit .268 with 38 homers and 163 RBIs in 2+ major league seasons. He agreed to a six-year, $33.5 million contract extension last spring.

As for the prospects in return: Munoz, 22, hit .300 with 13 homers and 68 RBIs this year for Double-A Midland and Triple-A Nashville. Schrock, 23, batted .321 with seven homers and 46 RBIs for Midland, and was a Texas League All-Star.