Rays to sign Charlie Morton



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10:57 a.m. The vesting option has plenty of flexibility, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports (Twitter connections). If he is in the DL for less than thirty days during the two guaranteed seasons, it will remain at $ 15 million. Otherwise, it can reach $ 10MM, $ 5MM, $ 3MM or $ 1MM depending on how many days it is off the field. This last figure would be realized if it were on the shelf for 200 or more days.

4:39 p.m. Morton will receive consecutive $ 15MM salaries, by Jon Heyman of Fancred (via Twitter). The agreement includes attribution bonuses if Morton is traded, valued at $ 1 million in 2019 and $ 500,000 in 2020.

3:03 p.m. Lightning strikes in agreement with right Charlie Morton, according to Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com (Twitter Link). Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported earlier today that Morton and the Rays were close to an agreement, and also first reported the interest between the two sides earlier this week.

Morton, a Jet Sports Management customer, will earn $ 30 million over the two-year contract, according to Yahoo Sports's Jeff Sports. The deal also contains an option for the 2021 season that could be worth up to $ 15 million if Morton remains healthy, though it may also be as low as $ 1 million if Morton suffers a significant injury over the initial two years. MLBTR ranked Morton 14th in our list of offseason's top 50 free agents and designed Morton for a two-year $ 32MM commitment so that he could exceed that value if the option year was exercised in full.

Charlie Morton

Although $ 30 million in guaranteed cash is not a huge amount for most free agent standards, it counts as a big expense for the low-income Rays even though the club has been able to account for the extra expenses after a season off of books in long-term commitments. Better yet for Lightning, they managed to reduce payroll while still putting their team more competitive in years, boasting a youthful roster that won 90 games in 2018. This progress left Tampa willing to spend a little more in the hope of making a complete Push for a post-season crib next season.

Morton, 35, enjoyed a late-career awakening since joining the Astros before the 2017 season and employing a new shooting philosophy that focused more on strikeouts and generated more speed. The veteran has a rate of 3.36 ERA, 10.4 K / 9 and 3.19 K / BB in 313 2/3 innings in a Houston uniform, a period that included a key role in the Astros' in Morton's first career. – It will be home in 2018. The veteran posted 6.3 fWAR in the last two years, as opposed to 7.8 fWAR during the first nine seasons with the Braves, Pirates and Phillies.

The Astros did not make a one-year qualifying offer for Morton, though they offered Hurler a one-year deal with an option in the second year. The Rangers were another well-known suitor, and one could presume that several other clubs had an interest in Morton given his recent success and the fact that he could be hired for a short-term contract. Morton had given the impression that he could retire soon and was not in search of a long-term commitment, although it appears that he will put the peaks for at least two more seasons. Morton has also expressed interest in returning to Houston or joining a team closest to his wife's family in Delaware, so the East Coast Rays location may have been a major factor, even if Tampa Bay and Delaware are not exactly nearby .

Morton now joins AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow as the only three conventional initiators in lightning rotation, as manager Kevin Cash said the team will continue to use an "opener" at least twice during each turn of the rotation. Although lightning bolts used the openers very regularly in 2018 (even on an almost daily basis during the summer while Snell was in the DL), adding a veteran arm like Morton to cover shifts provides extra protection for the corps of soldiers while preparing for another significant workload.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

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