Blue Jays Extend Brandon Morrow

11:20am: Morrow will earn $4MM in 2012 and $8MM in 2013 and 2014, Mike Wilner of Sportsnet Radio FAN 590 in Toronto tweets. There's a $10MM option with a $1MM buyout in 2015 for a total guarantee of $21MM.

7:30am: The Blue Jays have signed right-hander Brandon Morrow to a three-year, $20MM extension, the team announced. The deal includes a 2015 option for $10MM. The Blue Jays and the Wasserman Media Group client were known to be nearing an agreement last night.

Brandon Morrow - Blue Jays

Morrow, who is arbitration eligible for the second time, had filed for a 2012 salary of $4.2MM, while the Blue Jays had countered at $3.9MM. The contract buys out both of his remaining seasons of arbitration eligibility and at least one free agent season.

The Blue Jays moved Morrow (pictured) to the rotation full time in 2010, soon after acquiring him from the Mariners for for Brandon League and Johermyn Chavez. In two seasons as a starter, the 27-year-old owns a 4.62 ERA with 10.5 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 over the course of 325 2/3 innings.

Despite Morrow's ability to overwhelm opposing hitters — he led the American League in K/9 last year — he has posted below-average ERAs since joining the rotation. SIERA (3.31) and xFIP (3.53) suggest his ERA of 4.72 could have been considerably lower in 2011. There's reason for the Blue Jays to expect some improvement in terms of ERA, even if Morrow continues under-performing his peripheral stats. Though he's a fly ball pitcher (36.0% ground ball rate in 2011), he hasn't been particularly homer-prone (21 home runs in 2011).

MLBTR's Mark Polishuk examined Morrow as an extension candidate last August and his prediction (a three-year, $19MM deal with an $11MM option) came extremely close to the actual numbers. Shi Davidi of Sportsnet first reported that the sides were nearing a three-year, $20MM extension.

Photo courtesy Icon SMI.


74 Responses to Blue Jays Extend Brandon Morrow Leave a Reply

  1. Runtime 3 years ago

    Excellent.

    • chico65 3 years ago

      To Morrow, to Morrow, I’ll love you, to Morrow, you’re always a day away [from fully realizing your potential, that is]

  2. stl_cards16 3 years ago

    I figured they would try to get more than two free agent seasons.  A good deal though.  Now it’s time for him to turn the corner and become the Ace.

    • johnsmith4 3 years ago

      He certainly has the “stuff” to become an ace. But, given his command, at best, I see him as a number 2 in the rotation.  Which isn’t bad.

      • TheodoreRoosevelt 3 years ago

        The most encouraging thing about Morrow is that he becomes increasingly refined with each month that passes. It’s a fairly safe bet that he’ll be a better pitcher in 2012 than he was in 2011, and that’s exciting for a guy with his stuff. 

        • johnsmith4 3 years ago

          I must add his refinements seem to occur when facing top teams.  His games against Rangers and Rays stand out in my memory.

          • TheodoreRoosevelt 3 years ago

            No harm in that when up against the AL East 😉

        • johnsmith4 3 years ago

          I must add his refinements seem to occur when facing top teams.  His games against Rangers and Rays stand out in my memory.

    • His 17K one-hitter game was something unbelievable to watch. It really emphasized how completely dynamic his stuff really his. His heavy fastball and hard slider can be absolutely devastating, if he’s hitting his spots. Add in a consistently improving change up…it is exciting.

      • Lunchbox45 3 years ago

        when both his pitches are on, his slider hides well as a fastball and becomes an insanely tough pitch to recognize. its fun to watch for sure

    • They did, the option covers the second free agent year. So if it’s lights out for the first three years, they will pick up the fourth year with the 10MM option. Great contract!

      • stl_cards16 3 years ago

        Exactly, which would be two free agent years ……….

  3. elijah82 3 years ago

    I think this is a risky gamble by AA, albeit one that will definitely pay off if Morrow can make the right adjustments to push down his ERA so that it is more in line with his peripherals. The AAV of nearly $7 mil is a bit more than I personally expected though, considering that he’s had a lot of issues staying healthy.

    • I agree that there is some risk, however, I believe the reward potential is much greater then the risk potential.

    • He could have gotten close to that in his final year of arbitration if he had a year close to his peripherals. 

    • brian_dfhl 3 years ago

      Is it really though?  It pays him like a 3/4 starter really and that seems to be  his downside…upside is a solid 2 or 1a if he really puts it together.  I like the deal alot and don’t see alot of risk here myself.

      • blueandwhite89 3 years ago

        10 mil a year isn’t a 3/4 starter. You can probably count on one hand the number of teams with 3+ starters making 10+mil.

        This is #2 starter money, (in the later years). He needs to grow into it.

  4. Lunchbox45 3 years ago

    Next up, sign Lawrie to one of those tampa bay deals. 

    • johnsmith4 3 years ago

      I was thinking the same thing about Lawrie.  I figured a Morrow extension and a Lawrie contract are more important than big name free agent signings this offseason.

    • Sean 3 years ago

      Lock up snider too

  5. garylanglais 3 years ago

    AL East is turning into quite the young, controlled SP division. NYY now with Nova and Pineda, TOR with Romero and Morrow, TB with Moore and…well take your pick (Price, Hellickson, etc.), BOS with Lester and Buchholz.  BAL doesnt have same guys but they certainly have devoted high end draft picks to the position but they havent panned out yet.

    Good deal for both sides here.

    • MetsMagic 3 years ago

      You gotta think at least one of Arrietta, Britton, or Matusz will put it together, right? I hope so. 

  6. dashatt 3 years ago

    Glad to see he has stayed healthy for the Jays. He has alway had the stuff to be ace but health issues has made it take longer to show his up side.

  7. ellisburks 3 years ago

    I think it would have been a better deal if Morrow could prove he can be a 200-inning pitcher. The games I have watched with him are really frustrating. I see he can strike people out and he has cut down on the walks but he still can’t go more than 6 innings. He doesn’t pitch to contact very much and as a result if he can’t strike you out he ends up throwing a zillion pitches. Still the money isn’t massive and he has 3 years to make himself worth the contract.

    • Going from 69IP to 180IP over the course of 2 years is probably enough proof that he can stretch out to the 200 range going forward.

      • ellisburks 3 years ago

        He quite possibly could. But if he doesn’t get his pitch count down he won’t be more than a 6 inning pitcher. 104 pitches over 6 innings is not stellar. 

        • Lunchbox45 3 years ago

          if he can limit the opposition to 2 or less runs the jays will take it..

          Especially with the new look pen, you have the middle relievers who can get the job done

          • blueandwhite89 3 years ago

            Except that he hasn’t done that the past 2 years. Either way you look at it he has to get better.

  8. Since_77 3 years ago

    Bad news for the Yanks because in Rogers Center he is a really Yankee Killer.  Against them in his home park he is 3 – 0 with a 1.26 ERA in 35.66 innings.

    Different story in the Bronx

    • GriffeyandSizemore 3 years ago

      I saw all those games saw his stuff and presence on the mound it was scary. Then i looked at his stats and scratched my head he’s too good for that ERA.

  9. gs01 3 years ago

    The thing about Morrow is that he tries to strike everybody out and doesn’t pitch to contact so he never goes deep into games. He turned 1 double play all of last year, he needs to pitch more to contact if he’s ever going to be good.

  10. s_t_w 3 years ago

    Lawrie at 3B and, more importantly, Rasmus in CF will do wonders for his ERA. Last year, as he watched semi-routine fly balls turn into doubles, the look on his face was, as they say in the Mastercard commercials, priceless. This year, he should he quite a bit more help

    • stl_cards16 3 years ago

      Rasmus is alright in center, but I’ve never seen anyone so scared of the wall before.  So many balls bounce on the warning track because he would let up way too early.  I don’t know if he smashed into a wall when he was younger or what, but he is definately scared when he gets close.

      • Corey Patterson?

      • GriffeyandSizemore 3 years ago

        bobby abreu was the same way

      • johnsmith4 3 years ago

        Very interesting, in Toronto, there is a problem with Jose Bautista not letting up when the CF calls for a fly ball.  Rajai Davis and Corey Patterson would simply let up because they were unnerved by Bautista bearing in which resulted in missed fly balls.

        Fundamentally, the CF calling for the ball should never let up regardless of the other outfielder’s carelessness.  So far, Rasmus has impressively held his ground whenever Bautista has been unyielding.  Hopefully, this is a result of him maturing and will result in an evolution from his St. Louis days.

        PS  Recalling these fiascoes in right centre makes me wonder what impact it had on Morrow’s stats.

        • I watched Bautista take one, if not two of Rasmus’ balls August 10th against Oakland. I would agree that by September it wasn’t happening on basically every ball to right-center, but my guess is that was more the coach than the player.

      • Sniderlover 3 years ago

        Small sample size but he was absolutely fantastic with the Jays. His range out there was impressive. 

        • stl_cards16 3 years ago

          I can’t speak of that, I never seen any of his games with the Jays.  His negative career UZR/150 suggests that he is nothing more than an average CF.  Maybe he will improve but his numbers have actually declined since his rookie year.

    • blueandwhite89 3 years ago

      I don’t see either of those guys as above average fielders in their position. They play for their bats, and they are athletic enough tht they may develop into very good fielders, but I don’t see it right now.

  11. Can someone explain the discrepancy between his peripherals and advanced stats and his actual ERA to me?  SIERA and such suggest he should be like a top 15 pitcher, and he’s never been remotely close in terms of ERA.  I assume defense and luck would be reasons, yet his teammate Ricky Romero had a year WAY better year than the advanced stats suggest he should have.  Cecil and Villanueva also had (slightly) better ERAs than advanced stats suggest.

    This makes me believe defense isn’t to blame, though I could be persuaded otherwise by someone who’s good at explaining this.  Cuz you know, first reaction says it makes no sense that the defense would be great for one guy specifically and trash for another.  Is it entirely luck or is Brandon Morrow a bit of an exception to the advanced metrics?

    • notsureifsrs 3 years ago

      in 2010 his BABIP with runners on was near .400 despite having a better batted ball profile in those situations than out of them. his peripherals were strong across the board. (3 FIP, 17% LD, 39% GB) and did not at all warrant that kind of BABIP

      in 2011 that BABIP figure was down to ~.330 with a similarly stable batted ball profile (19% LD). walked a few more with runners on (9.5% to 8.7%), but struck out more too (26.5% to 25.8%). the difference was that he gave up a ton of HRs in those situations (1.35 per 9 with RISP)

      these are bad results, no doubt. but they aren’t the kind of things that make you worry about a guy going forward, or doubt his ability to pitch with runners on. by themselves, we call them flukes. two seasons in a row seems less flukey, but it was actually probably just two different flukes back to back

      if he continues to give up HRs at that rate with runners on, his ERA won’t ever match his peripherals. you can’t just write it off as bad luck; it’s his responsibility to keep the ball in the park (and his HR/FB% wasn’t all that flukey). it was the timing of those HRs that doomed his ERA. but since there’s no data to suggest he has a skill-based problem pitching with runners on, there’s no reason to expect it to keep happening in the future

      • Encarnacion's Parrot 3 years ago

        I think Morrow’s biggest problem was the outfield defense. Having the likes of Patterson, Davis and Thames chasing down fly balls doesn’t exactly help the cause. Even Bautista isn’t great in the outfield in terms of range. With Morrow being a fly ball pitcher, having guys out there who really should make a difference this year, such as Rasmus, should help his ERA resemble more closely to his FIP and SIERA.

        That being said, he does need to generate more ground balls if he’s not missing bats. Having a fastball that’s straight as an arrow doesn’t exactly give me much enthusiasm.

        An ERA of 3.80 sounds about right for him in 2012.  If his groundball % magically improves to roughly 45%, his ERA should be fairly identical to his 3.31 SIERA.

        As for the home runs, I took a look at his splits last year, and he only allowed 5 homers in the first half, and 16 in the 2nd. It could just be things evening themselves out, but that seems pretty extreme in terms of difference.

        • notsureifsrs 3 years ago

          in 2010 when BABIP really hurt morrow the most, his BABIP on fly balls was just 5% worse than the league average. it was his BABIP on line drives and groundballs that hurt him most, as both were 34% higher than league average. a number of those line drives may have been to the outfield, but we don’t expect outfielders to make plays on most line drives

          last year morrow had a lower than average BABIP on fly balls. 14% lower. part of that is because of all the HRs, but it’s still not the high figure we’d expect if outfield defense were the problem. his results on LD and GB were only marginally worse than league average

          these are overall numbers, though. there’s no data on how things played out with runners on – and it was specifically when runners were on that his BABIP shot through the roof. so it’s possible that you’re right, but it’s enough for me to simply rule out the idea that morrow has some intrinsic, skill-based problem that dooms him to a higher ERA than his FIP. there’s no evidence of that. he should be good-to-great going forward

          • johnsmith4 3 years ago

            Wow…great analysis…now I feel shame when I look back at the reasoning in my post.

          • Encarnacion's Parrot 3 years ago

            Glad you had the patience to find those BABIP numbers. With the numbers presented at us, there’s just too many unknown factors that play into why Morrow’s basic peripherals don’t stack up to the saber’s. It’s essentially straw-grasping.

            With so many variables, it could be something as simple as his pitch selection, specifically referring to his 2-pitch approach. When your third-most used pitch sits at 5.5%, you know there must be a level of predictability involved.

            His .342 BABIP with runners on in 2011, and .385 in 2010, might have something more to say about pitching out of the stretch than bad luck, but that’s just more straw-grasping.

            Morrow is something of a paradox.

          • notsureifsrs 3 years ago

            i’d buy that if he were getting hit harder in those situations, but he hasn’t been. 17% LD with bases empty in 2010 and 17% with runners on (just 2% variance in GB/FB). that’s generally a .280-.310ish BABIP. he ended up with .390

            in 2011 he was hit much harder with the bases empty than with runners on. 24.5% LD to 19.5%. he gave up many more fly balls – and many more HRs – but one year of that doesn’t even constitute a trend, let alone a talent level. it wasn’t a problem in seattle and it wasn’t a problem in toronto in 2010

            i think the BABIP issue is a non-factor going forward. the HRs he will absolutely have to control. but at the end of the day, i’d love to have him on this contract

          • Encarnacion's Parrot 3 years ago

            at the end of the day, i’d love to have him on this contract

            Agreed. The transition from FIP/SIERA to ERA isn’t there yet, but the potential for a 5+ WAR pitcher is so high that the contract could easily become pocket change. If he never reaches his potential, the contract is then only for 3 years, and he’s still a serviceable #4-5 starter, or could potentially be dominant in the bullpen.

            All in all though, nothing about Morrow’s numbers make sense.

          • Encarnacion's Parrot 3 years ago

            Glad you had the patience to find those BABIP numbers. With the numbers presented at us, there’s just too many unknown factors that play into why Morrow’s basic peripherals don’t stack up to the saber’s. It’s essentially straw-grasping.

            With so many variables, it could be something as simple as his pitch selection, specifically referring to his 2-pitch approach. When your third-most used pitch sits at 5.5%, you know there must be a level of predictability involved.

            His .342 BABIP with runners on in 2011, and .385 in 2010, might have something more to say about pitching out of the stretch than bad luck, but that’s just more straw-grasping.

            Morrow is something of a paradox.

      • johnsmith4 3 years ago

        Your explanation is much better than mine.

    • notsureifsrs 3 years ago

      the copycats at fangraphs gave it a swing this morning too if you want to take a look

    • johnsmith4 3 years ago

      Romero is a ground ball pitcher while Morrow is a fly ball pitcher.  Last year, Blue Jays had one of the worst rated outfield defence.  Their infield defence is respectable.

      That being said, Romero’s makeup is stronger than Morrow’s.  As a result, Romero pitches to his team’s strength while Morrow has not.  In short, Romero is smart enough to “make” some of his own luck.

      So, it probably is a combination of some natural bad luck and Morrow’s inability to make his own luck.

      Having Rasmus in CF should help a lot with improving outfield defence.  Having Snider over Thames in left field will take it even further.  So, 2012 should be a “telling” season for Morrow.

    • blueandwhite89 3 years ago

      Just another of the many examples of why advances stats suck.

  12. MetsMagic 3 years ago

    Necessary gamble for the Blue Jays, and should work out well for them. It may look like a bit much, but when you look at his peripherals, his stuff, and his upside, this could end up being a huge bargain for Toronto. 

  13. hgr900 3 years ago

    Blie Jays Extend Brandon Morrow…Gross

  14. GriffeyandSizemore 3 years ago

    I feel about him about how i felt about Grienke about 5 years ago and he eventually reached his potential and so will Morrow.

  15. GriffeyandSizemore 3 years ago

    I feel about him about how i felt about Grienke about 5 years ago and he eventually reached his potential and so will Morrow.

  16. blueandwhite89 3 years ago

    This is basically a 20 million dollar gamble. Unfortunetly, history is not on Morrows side. His stuff is great, but the results are not.

    Not the kind of deal I would have made. Give the guy 20 million when he proves himself. Right now they are paying for potantial, in the hope that one day he wont give up 5-6 runs every other start.

    • FrankTheFunkasaurusRex 3 years ago

      if he proves himself he would not sign a team friendly deal like this. Why would he?

      • blueandwhite89 3 years ago

        This is not team friendly. The 4 mil this season is what he would have gotten in arb, and the 8 mil years exceed what he would have made (given the same performance as 2010/2011).

        This is a team friendly deal if he puts up some consistency as he did in the back half of 2010. But thats a big if.

        • FrankTheFunkasaurusRex 3 years ago

          uh, no. If he doesn’t improve at all, he’s well worth 20M over the next 3 years.

          • blueandwhite89 3 years ago

            If his ERA is floating in the 5 range, and he’s giving up 5-6 runs every other start like he did last year he is not worth 20 mil oer 3 years. In fact he may not even be in the rotation any more if the young arms are knocking on the door.

    • Lucas Kschischang 3 years ago

      Reading comprehension would have led you to think otherwise; however, due to the fact that you completely ignored his SIERA and xFIP, you think history is against Morrow, when in fact it is playing into both the Jays and Morrows hands.

      • blueandwhite89 3 years ago

        Those stats are useless. Proven time and time again.

        Dude blows up every other start, leaves the ball all over the strike zone and gets hit hard. He strikes out a lot of guys, so his FIP is far over inflated.

        Watch him start a few games. You’ll see what I mean.

        Give him the cash when he puts together a solid season. Expecting him to because of useless stats isn’t a reason to give him the cash.

        • Lucas Kschischang 3 years ago

          Ok, so lets simplify it for you;

          These are his splits over the last two years:
                            W-L ERA BA K/9 BABIP
          Home 2011 4-8, 6.91 .284 10.5 .357
          Road 2011 5-2, 2.97 .188 10.3 .249
          Home 2010 8-1, 2.74 .221 10.6 .312
          Road 2010 2-6, 6.72 .281 11.3 .384

          Still don’t think he can put it together?

          • blueandwhite89 3 years ago

            Oh he CAN put it together, but I see nothing but inconsistency.

            What there is suposed to demonstrate that the guy can pitch with any kind of consistency?

            Sometimes his control is pretty good. Sometimes he’s all over and gets hit hard.

  17. $14878247 3 years ago

    He’s 28 bro!

  18. Encarnacion's Parrot 3 years ago

    I couldn’t tell if you were serious, but Lester is 28.

  19. chico65 3 years ago

    Fried chicken and beer can age a man

    But seriously, it’s probably been because he’s been in the bigs for about 5 years now, and was in the news alot when he was younger due to his battle with cancer

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