Charlie Morton Contract

This evening, the Braves announced that they have extended the contract of starting pitcher Charlie Morton by one year. Next year, he’ll earn $20 million, and the two teams have agreed to a no-buyout club option for 2024 at the same amount. The Braves are one of only a few MLB clubs that publicly disclose contract information.

Morton will remain in Atlanta for the third year. Both of his contract extensions came late in the season, and the first one was for a one-year, $15MM free agent deal in the 2020-21 offseason. Both deals have been for one year and have guaranteed $20 million with a team option for the same amount.

The Falcons could have saved themselves $20 million by picking up the option for 2023 in Morton’s prior contract, but instead, they negotiated a new deal with Wasserman’s client that included a second option for the 2024 season.

The club seems to feel comfortable around the 15-year MLB veteran, and vice versa. He has been a dependable and productive starter for Atlanta, appearing in 63 games during his first two seasons and never once needing to be placed on the injured list. In the playoffs of 2021, he started four more games.

Charlie Morton Contract

 

However, things didn’t work out for Morton on a personal level because he fractured his right leg in his World Series start and had to be replaced. However, they ultimately prevailed over the Astros to claim victory, and Morton was ready to go for the start of the new season.

During his first professional season with the Atlanta Braves, Morton pitched to a 3.34 ERA in 185 2/3 innings. His 4.29 earned run average in 167 2/3 innings pitched this year is not promising going into his final start of the year. The two-time All-Star has exhibited no indications of physical deterioration, as evidenced by his consistent 28.6% strikeout rate both in 2021 and this year.

Morton’s four-seam averaged 94.9 MPH this season, and his go-to curveball averaged 81.2 MPH, both of which are quite close to their respective 95.5 MPH and 80.6 MPH numbers from last year. Everything about the plot is the same from beginning to end.

In each season, 12.3 percent of Morton’s total pitches have resulted in swinging strikes. Morton’s swinging strike percentage has consistently been in the 12-13% region for the past five seasons, which is much above the league average of 10.7% for starters this year. Morton’s raw arsenal and ability to miss bats remain unchanged despite the fact that he will turn 39 in less than two months.

His inability to throw strikes earlier than usual was a major factor in his overall decline in output. In April, Morton made four starts and walked 11 batters while allowing 14 runs over 18 innings. By the time the calendar changed to May, he had largely established his feet from a commanding standpoint.

Read More: Charlie Morton: The Braves Have Reached an Agreement on A One-Year $20 Million Contract for The 2023 Season!

He has a 3.97 ERA, 29.9% strikeout rate, and 8.2% walk percentage in 26 starts since May 1. During that time, opposing batters have a.218/.301/.384 batting line against him. Morton had a great June–August but has struggled again this September, with a 5.27 ERA in five starts.

The Braves haven’t given him much of a hard time despite his early season control issues and his rough outings against the Mariners and Phillies. Even though Morton’s ground-ball rate has dropped to a career-low 39.7% clip, his velocity, and good strikeout and walk profile gives plenty of reason for optimism that he can be an above-average starter next season.

Meanwhile, Morton seems satisfied to take his playing career one year at a time. Formerly a ground ball specialist in the Pirates’ rear of the rotation, Morton transformed himself into a strikeout artist for the Astros in 2017.

He spent the first two years of his career with the Astros before signing a free agent contract with the Rays for four years. He will then spend the next three years with the Braves. Reports indicate that he has limited his recent potential free agency travels to the Southeast in order to be closer to his family.

Charlie Morton Contract

Of course, location isn’t the only thing that makes pitching for the Braves enticing. Morton is still a key cog in a formidable lineup that has the club on the cusp of 100 victories and in serious contention for a repeat in the NL East. Among the other talented starters are All-Star Max Fried, breakout standout Kyle Wright, and star rookie Spencer Strider.

Since being acquired from the Astros at the trade deadline, veteran Jake Odorizzi has claimed the fifth rotation place for Atlanta. However, the Braves also have rookie Bryce Elder and prospect Freddy Tarnok as promising depth alternatives.

All of them might come back in 2023. All three players, Strider, Fried, and Wright, are under the jurisdiction of the club. Odorizzi has the choice of exercising a $12.5 million player option or accepting a $6.25 million buyout to pursue a career in free agency.

As well as Elder and Tarnok, the teams have some say over the likes of the former top prospect to mid-rotation arm Ian Anderson, as well as Mike Soroka, Kyle Muller, and Huascar Ynoa (although Ynoa is unlikely to pitch next season after undergoing Tommy John surgery recently).

With that many choices, the club has less of a need to go outside of the organization for rotation aid. The front office’s recent trend of wanting to keep as much of the current core together through extensions like the one signed with Morton is further evidence of this.

Read More: In Response to the “Disrespectful” Rumors of His Return to Juventus, Antonio Conte Has Hinted at Signing a New Contract with Tottenham!

Since last year’s extensions for Ronald Acuna Jr., Travis d’Arnaud, and Ozzie Albies, Atlanta has added Matt Olson, Austin Riley, and Michael Harris II to their roster via long-term contracts. With another $20MM set aside for next year’s payroll (if Odorizzi exercises his option), the team’s guaranteed obligations are projected by Roster Resource to be well over $165MM.

That doesn’t even take into account the arbitration salary of Fried, Soroka, and high-leverage reliever A.J. Minter, nor the chance of extending pending free agency shortstop Dansby Swanson. It’s likely that they’ll break the club record of $178 million spent on players by Opening Day next year, but the Liberty Media ownership group seems at ease with the situation after winning the championship last year and locking up at least two home playoff games in the near future.

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