One of the neater stories to come out of baseball over the last several years has been the revitalization of Charlie Morton’s arm and career. Prior to joining the Astros, Morton had decent, if unremarkable career with short stop with the Braves before a lengthier stint with the Pirates. However, once Morton caught on with the Astros, they made some adjustments and all of a sudden, Morton’s fastball had some added zip and he posted back-to-back 3+ fWAR seasons for Houston.
Sadly, all good things must come to an end and it became clear quickly that Morton’s earning potential and Houston’s available budget did not line up. There was even some talk that Morton was even considering retirement at one point. Morton ultimately became a free agent without a qualifying offer attached and now it looks like he has a new team.
Hearing #Rays are closing in on deal with RHP Charlie Morton— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) December 12, 2018
Adding Morton is an interesting move for the Rays as they started to sell off pieces at the trade deadline this past season. Rather than fold, the team excelled after the deadline and the team’s hot end to the season may make Tampa believe they could be a surprising contender in what should be an already tough AL East. This seems to ring true with the contract terms as well.
Now for the Dodgers, Yankees, or Red Sox, an annual rate of $15 million is basically using the change they find in their couches, but for the Rays, this marks a big investment over the next couple of years. Morton on a performance basis has absolutely earned that contract, but that it was the Rays pulling the trigger is what makes this move all the more interesting.
In 167 innings last season, Morton posted a 3.13 ERA and 3.59 FIP while striking out nearly 11 batters per nine innings pitched. He will be 35 when the season starts and with a rotation that include Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow, and at some point Brent Honeywell....the Rays could be around until the very end.