Don't Expect Moscoso to Find a Home on the 40
The Cubs claimed 29-year old RHP Guillermo Moscoso off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays today
Moscoso had a fine rookie season for the Oakland Athletics in 2011, going 8-10 with a 3.38 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP, allowing just 102 hits in 128 IP, with a 38/74 BB/K. He was then traded to the Colorado Rockies along with LHP Josh Outman for OF Seth Smith in January 2012.
Moscoso had a horrible year in 2012, however (6.12 ERA and 1.72 WHIP in 23 games and 50.0 IP for the Rockies, but with a very decent 2.70 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP away from Coors Field), and was demoted to AAA Colorado Springs, where he continued to struggle (6.13 ERA and a 1.56 WHIP in 18 games and 95.1 IP).
He was claimed off waivers by the Kansas City Royals last November, and then was claimed off waivers again (this time by Toronto) earlier this month. He was ineffective in five Spring Training outings for KC and TOR (12.86 ERA and 2.57 WHIP).
The Cubs probably noticed Moscoso while scouting eventual Rule 5 pick Hector Rondon, because Moscoso was Rondon's teammate on the Caracas club in the Venezuelan Winter League this past off-season, putting up a 3.10 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP in 29 IP (26 hits allowed and a 7/18 BB/K).
Moscoso's 2012 troubles might be at least partly attributable to his being an extreme fly ball pitcher, probably not the best characteristic to have if you're playing half your games in the thin air of Denver or Colorado Springs. But even so, why would the Cubs claim Moscoso and waste a 40-man roster slot on a struggling 29-year old pitcher who is out of minor league options?
I suspect that the Cubs claimed Moscoso off waivers and then put him right back on Outright Assignment Waivers an hour later. The Cubs did the same thing when they claimed Luis Valbuena off waivers at the end of Spring Training last year (immediately put him back on waivers before outrighting him to Iowa).
If that is what is happening, it goes something like this:
The Cubs were awarded the waiver claim at 1 PM (Eastern) Wednesday, placed Arodys Vizcaino on the 60-day DL to make room for Moscoso (a player claimed off waivers cannot be Designated for Assignment if the 40-man roster is full), and then placed Moscoso back on Outright Assignment Waivers an hour later at 2 PM (Eastern). The waiver ride takes two days (actually 47 hours), and then Moscoso will either be claimed off waivers by another club (and if that happens, it's just "easy come, easy go"), or he is not claimed and then the Cubs can outright him to Iowa on Friday or Saturday (prior to MLB Opening Day) and still have time to add LHP Hisanori Takahashi (presuming he is the 12th pitcher on the staff) to the 40-man roster. (Scott Baker will almost certainly be placed on the 60-day DL prior to Opening Day to make room on the 40 for Brent Lillibridge).
Moscoso cannot refuse an Outright Assignment and elect to be a free-agent because he has not been outrighted previously in his career, he has not accrued at least three years of MLB Service Time (he is at 1+097 coming into the 2013 season), and he was not a "Super Two" player post-2012, so the Cubs can outright him and not worry about him refusing the assignment.
And then the Cubs will have time to see if Moscoso can get back to where he was in 2011 as he spends the 2013 season at AAA Iowa.
If he does get back to his 2011 form, the Cubs can put him back on their 40-man roster (as long as they do it no later than 5 PM on the 5th day after the conclusion of the 2013 World Series). And if he doesn't get back to where he was, he will be a six-year minor league free-agent post-2013.
So is he just another One Year Wonder who was exposed once the league got wise to him, or was he a victim of Mile-High-Phobia (as his extreme 2012 home/road splits might indicate)?
All it costs to find out is the $20,000 waiver price.