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2019 Cy Young candidate Charlie Morton agrees to 1-year, $15 million deal with the Braves

Charlie Morton, Braves

Free agent right-handed pitcher Charlie Morton has agreed to a one-year, $15 million contract with the Atlanta Braves.

The deal was first reported by MLB Network’s Mark Feinsand. As he notes, it’s the largest contract handed out since baseball’s free agency period began.

 

The 37-year old hit the market after the Tampa Bay Rays declined his club option. Morton signed a two-year, $30 million with Tampa Bay prior to the 2019 season, and the Braves deal will pay Morton the same money as the 2021 option would have.

The Rays made the playoffs in both of Morton’s seasons in Tampa, with the veteran pitcher playing a key role in the Rays’ consistently strong rotation together with Tyler Glasnow and Blake Snell, and earning praise for mentoring young pitchers.

Morton posted a 4.74 ERA during the shortened 2020 season, but raised his game in the postseason. He went 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA in October, and he was the winning pitcher for Tampa’s Game 7 victory over the Houston Astros in the ALCS.

Overall, Charlie Morton went 18-8 with a 3.33 ERA with the Rays, and finished third in the AL Cy Young voting in 2019.

Morton had an ERA of 3.36 in 55 starts for Houston over two seasons prior to joining Tampa, and won a World Series ring in 2017 with the Astros.

Like Tampa, Atlanta is hoping Morton can be one of the final pieces that puts the team over the hump and back into the World Series. Atlanta blew a 3-1 lead in the NLCS to the eventual champion Los Angeles Dodgers this past fall.

The Braves already signed left-hander Drew Smyly (one year, $11 million) this offseason, and have Max Fried, Ian Anderson, and Mike Soroka returning to round out one of the National League’s most formidable starting rotations, at least on paper.

According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, Morton’s deal with Atlanta does not include no-trade protection or incentive clauses.

Charlie Morton was drafted by the Braves in 2002. For his 13-year career, he’s compiled a 93-89 record with a 4.08 ERA. He’s also played for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Philadelphia Phillies.