Right-hander Charlie Morton signed a one-year $ 15 million deal with the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday, further boosting a team’s rotation that lagged one game behind the World Series and could come back even better in 2021.
Morton, 37, has polished his reputation as a big-game pitcher in recent years by finishing the most-promising Game 7 of the 2017 World Series with Houston and winning Game 7 of the American League Championship Series, the Tampa Bay Rays this season.
Atlanta, who stepped into this post-season short for starters, now boasts one of the best rotations in baseball, with Morton and the Braves’ other free agent Drew Smyly joining Max Fried’s young core, Mike Soroka and Ian Anderson, who is set to make a come back from a torn Achilles a month or two in the season. Ahead of Soroka’s return, right-hander Kyle Wright and Bryse Wilson can take his rotating spot.
Morton wasn’t available until after the Rays turned down a $15 million club option. Although they wanted to re-sign Morton, they were unwilling to match Atlanta’s offer, returning Morton to the team that fielded him in 2002 and with whom he made his debut six years later.
Atlanta’s strategy of targeting high dollar free agents on one-year deals, which was hugely successful under baseball operations president Alex Anthopoulos, was repeated with Morton and Smyly signing for $ 11 million. Atlanta saw its latest triumph in that group, slacker Marcell Ozuna, leave through free agency this winter.
Even then, Atlanta’s throws could rival the best in the National League East. This includes the Washington Nationals and gives even more to handle the New York Mets, Miami Marlins, and Philadelphia Phillies. Even to deal with it, they try to dethrone and overpower the Braves. The latter has won three consecutive division titles.
In his two seasons at Tampa Bay, Morton, who was admired and praised for his work with the younger pitchers of the Rays, went 18-8 with a 3.33 ERA and came third in the AL Cy Young vote in 2019.
The two-time All-Star bagged his lone World Series ring in 2017 with the Astros, with whom he was 29-10 with a 3.36 ERA in 55 starts in two seasons. Morton is 93-89 with a 4.08 ERA over a 13-year career with Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Houston, Atlanta, and Tampa Bay.
Sources told ESPN’s Buster Olney that Morton received no exchange protection and immunity in the deal, $ 15 million without incentives.
Morton is back on the squad that called him up in 2002 – and will receive the same money Tampa Bay turned down when he turned down his club option last month.
Morton, who brought the Rays to the World Series with a Game 7 victory over the Houston Astros in the ALCS, became a free agent after Tampa Bay turned down a $ 15 million option for the 2021 season.
Morton does not have incentive clauses or non-commercial protection incorporated into his deal with the Braves, and sources told ESPN’s, Buster Olney.
The 37-year-old right-wing veteran joined the Rays in 2019 with a two-year contract worth $ 30 million, helping them earn playoff seats for the past two seasons. He was 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA in the playoffs after getting the score of 2-2 with a 4.74 ERA in the shortened season due to the pandemic.
In his previous two seasons with Tampa Bay, Morton, who has carved his reputation for his excellent performance and work with the Rays’ younger pitchers, went promisingly in 18-8 with a 3.33 ERA and was third in the AL Cy Young voting in 2019.
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