TODAY: Moronta has been outrighted to Triple-A, according to MLB.com’s transactions page. It isn’t yet known if Moronta has accepted the assignment or elected free agency.
MAY 26: The Angels announced Friday that righty Reyes Moronta has been designated for assignment. His spot on the 40-man and active roster will go to pitching prospect Sam Bachman, whose contract has been selected — as was previously reported.
Moronta, 30, inked a minor league deal with the Halos on May 11 and was selected to the big league roster just ten days later. He appeared in two games and pitched 1 1/3 innings, allowing a run on four hits and three walks with two strikeouts. With the Angels aggressively seeking solutions to balance out a top-heavy bullpen, his spot will go to Bachman, whom the Angels selected with the ninth overall pick in the 2021 draft.
Back in 2017-19, Moronta was a high-quality setup man for the Giants, pitching to a 2.66 ERA with a 29.8% strikeout rate across 128 1/3 innings. Command was an issue, which was easy to see with one glance at a 13.6% walk rate, but Moronta’s 97.1 mph heater and a plus, low-80s slider helped him to limit the damage from those free passes.
Shoulder surgery ended Moronta’s 2019 season a few weeks early and wiped out nearly all of his 2020-21 seasons, however. He returned to toss four innings with the Giants in 2021, allowing just one run in that time but also sporting a fastball that clocked it at an average of 94.3 mph — a nearly three mile-per-hour drop. The Giants removed him from the 40-man roster in September, and Moronta cleared outright waivers and subsequently elected free agency at season’s end.
The Dodgers signed Moronta to a minor league deal once the 2021-22 lockout was lifted, and less than three weeks into the season he’d made it up to their big league bullpen. He spent the next couple months as an up-and-down arm in L.A. before ultimately being designated for assignment and claimed off waivers by the D-backs. Overall, his 2022 campaign ended with 37 2/3 frames of 4.30 ERA ball, a 23.6% strikeout rate and an 11.2% walk rate.
Moronta’s 95.2 mph heater this year lined up with his 95.3 mph average in 2022, but both sit about two miles per hour shy of his peak. The Angels will have a week to trade him, attempt to pass him through outright waivers or release him. Moronta has enough big league service time to reject an outright assignment in favor of free agency, even if he goes unclaimed on waivers.