Charlie Morton Rumors
Morton, who is represented by Jet Sports Management, will earn $4MM in 2014, $8MM in 2015-16 and has a $1MM buyout on a $9.5MM club option (plus $500K of incentives) for the 2017 season. The option would become a mutual option were Morton to be traded at any point throughout the life of the deal.
Had he not signed the extension, Morton would have been eligible for free agency following the 2014 campaign. The extension is similar to the three-year, $20MM figure suggested as a fair price by MLBTR's Tim Dierkes when examining Pittsburgh's arbitration eligible players back in early November.
The 30-year-old Morton returned from 2012 Tommy John surgery this season and turned in a strong campaign. Morton pitched to a 3.26 ERA with 6.6 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a whopping 62.9 percent ground-ball rate that led all Major League pitchers that threw at least 100 innings.
Originally acquired (along with lefty Jeff Locke and outfielder Gorkys Hernandez) in the 2009 trade that sent Nate McLouth to the Braves, Morton broke out with the Pirates in 2011 when he posted a solid 3.83 ERA in 171 2/3 innings. Over his past three seasons, Morton has pitched to a 3.75 ERA with 5.9 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 -- numbers that have been deflated, to an extent, by his elbow issues in 2012.
MLBTR's Matt Swartz projected Morton to earn $3.9MM in 2014, so the contract essentially guarantees Morton $17MM for a pair of free agent seasons. Had he not signed the extension and had a solid season, Morton would have had a chance to earn more on the free agent market. However, players with Morton's type of injury history haven't typically done this well in contract extensions, and Morton opted for the security of guaranteed money. Morton's agent, Andrew Lowenthal, told Passan that his client never had any desire to leave Pittsburgh:
"The most important part of this deal and the reason why this deal got done is Charlie wanted to remain a Pirate and considers himself a Pirate. He loves the city. He loves the fans. The team stuck by him. This is Charlie’s way of being loyal to the organization. The contract is a win-win."
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Tonight is the deadline for teams to tender contracts to arbitration eligible players. Many teams will agree to terms with players before the 11pm CT deadline and we'll keep track of them here. Be sure to check out MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker for complete details:
- The Mariners have avoided arbitration with Josh Kinney, the team announced. It's a one-year deal.
- The Pirates have agreed to terms with Charlie Morton, the team announced. The right-hander missed most of the season following Tommy John surgery. Morton will earn $2MM, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes has learned.
- The Athletics avoided arbitration with Adam Rosales, the team announced. They also agreed to sign Daric Barton to a one-year, $1.1MM contract, avoiding arbitration, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (on Twitter). The non-guaranteed deal includes $250K in incentives. Barton had been a non-tender candidate.
- The Orioles announced that they have avoided arbitration with Taylor Teagarden, Steve Pearce, and Alexi Casilla. Casilla's deal is worth $1.7MM with a $3MM option for 2014 ($200K buyout) according to Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun (on Twitter).
- The Astros announced that they have avoided arbitration with Phil Humber. It's a one-year deal worth $800K with a $3MM club option for 2014 ($500K buyout), reports the AP via MLB.com's Brian McTaggart (on Twitter). Houston claimed the right-hander off waivers earlier today.
- The Yankees announced that they avoided arbitration with Jayson Nix, signing the infielder to a Major League deal for 2013.
- The Royals announced that they avoided arbitration with second baseman Chris Getz, agreeing to a one-year, Major League contract. Getz will earn $1.05MM in 2013 on a deal that includes up to $150K in performance bonuses, Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reports (on Twitter). Luke Hochevar is Kansas City's lone unsigned arbitration eligible player as MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker shows.
Mike Axisa contributed to this post.
The Pirates, who lead the NL Central with a 48-37 record, aim to improve their roster for the second half of the season. “We’re in a buying mode,” manager Clint Hurdle said, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Pirates have inquired on Carlos Quentin and Justin Upton, two of the top bats available this summer. Here are the details on the Pirates...
- “Our focus is to exhaustively search all opportunities to add to this club and to execute the right move(s) to make this club better,” GM Neal Huntington said, according to Biertempfel.
- The Diamondbacks and Padres might have some degree of interest in right-hander Brad Lincoln in potential deals involving Upton and Quentin, Biertempfel reports (on Twitter). The Diamondbacks are scouting the Pirates’ Triple-A team and the Padres are scouting the Pirates’ Class A West Virginia team, Biertempfel adds.
- Biertempfel suggests the Pirates could use starting pitching depth.
- Within Biertempfel’s piece a handful of former general managers share thoughts on what the Pirates should do this year.
The Pirates avoided arbitration with starter Charlie Morton, MLBTR has learned, agreeing on a one-year deal worth $2.445MM. The Proformance client tops Matt Swartz's projection by over $300K. Morton was arbitration eligible for the first time, and peers such as Chris Volstad, J.A. Happ, Randy Wells, Clayton Richard, and Homer Bailey will take note of his agreement.
The Cardinals and Reds sit atop the NL Central standings thanks to the two highest-scoring offenses in the National League. Even without vintage Albert Pujols, the Cards lead the league in runs (227) and OPS+ (120). Here's the latest on a few of their division rivals...
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington saw possible first overall selection Anthony Rendon three times last week, according to ESPN.com’s Buster Olney (on Twitter). The Pirates are considering a handful of players with the top pick.
- Dave Cameron of FanGraphs examines Charlie Morton's unusual platoon splits and says the Pirates right-hander will have to adjust his approach against left-handed hitters if he wants to maintain his early-season success.
- When incoming Astros owner Jim Crane talks about spending wisely and having enough money to run the team effectively, it sounds good, but as Jerome Solomon of the Houston Chronicle says, “nothing really matters except results.”
- Sean Green accepted his outright assignment to Triple-A and will stay with the Brewers organization, according to MLB.com's Adam McCalvy (on Twitter). Milwaukee designated the reliever for assignment earlier in the month.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post talked to one executive who believes the Pirates sent a mixed message by signing McLouth to an extension and dealing him soon after. One team official says the Pirates never shopped McLouth, which suggests they were impressed by the Braves' offer.
- ESPN.com's Rob Neyer says he usually loves deals like this for the team acquiring young talent. In this case, he doesn't believe the Pirates got enough. For the Braves, however, it's a "brilliant" move.
- MLB.com's Adam Rosenberg reports that McLouth will arrive in Atlanta today.
- MLB.com's Jen Langosch sees both sides of the deal for the Pirates: It's possible Neal Huntington could have traded McLouth for more, but the three players he obtained are good ones.
- In spite of all the analysis, Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says we won't really know who won this deal for months or even years.
- Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review says the fan reaciton has been "mostly negative."
- John Smoltz's reaction to the Braves' decision to release his former teammate: "That's not how you treat people." Smoltz disagrees openly with the move in the rest of his discussion with Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says Glavine can prove the Braves wrong by pitching well for another team.
- Yahoo's Jeff Passan believes it took a "healthy dose of emotional detachment" to cut Glavine, one that signaled "a clean break from the Braves' old identity."
Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union-Tribune had an article yesterday involving a couple of failed Padres trades.
Krasovic says the Padres and Braves were discussing a 4-for-1 Jake Peavy deal in November. Yunel Escobar and Gorkys Hernadez were agreed upon. The conflict came as the Padres wanted Charlie Morton over Jo-Jo Reyes as well as Jeff Locke or Tyler Flowers over Blaine Boyer. To me that gap looks pretty sizeable, so maybe the trade was never close. At this point it seems like the Braves could end up with Javier Vazquez and Kenshin Kawakami as their rotation upgrades. They've reportedly made Escobar unavailable, leading Dan Hayes of the North County Times to suggest the Braves would have to remove Tommy Hanson's apparent "untouchable" tag to get Peavy. Everything I've read about Hanson has said the Braves are adamant about keeping him.
Krasovic also says the Giants made a run at shortstop Khalil Greene before he was dealt to the Cardinals.
According to Scott Miller of CBSSports.com, the Padres are expected to request Jake Peavy waive his no-trade clause to go to the Braves. The deal being discussed: Yunel Escobar, Gorkys Hernandez, Charlie Morton or Jo-Jo Reyes, and Blaine Boyer or one of two minor league southpaws. Miller says the Padres are leaning toward Morton and Boyer.
The Braves want an answer by Friday, so they can figure out their free agent needs. Peavy is said to prefer the Cubs, but we'll see what happens if the Padres approach him to waive the no-trade for Atlanta. It hasn't happened yet.
12:14pm: Dave O'Brien agrees that the Braves are growing frustrated waiting on Kevin Towers, with the free agent open season creeping up.
10:21am: ESPN's Buster Olney has the latest on the Jake Peavy trade talks.
Olney says the Braves and Padres are making progress, despite Ken Rosenthal's report of Atlanta's frustration. Olney says the Braves would send Yunel Escobar and Gorkys Hernandez to the Padres, plus Charlie Morton or Jo-Jo Reyes. They're haggling over one last player, with the Padres eyeing southpaw Jeff Locke.
The Cubs are still in the mix, and a third team would be included to flip pitching to San Diego. One way or another, the Cubs would give up Josh Vitters and others.
Summing up this weekend's Jake Peavy information...
- David O'Brien noted that the friendship between Padres GM Kevin Towers and Peavy's agent Barry Axelrod has raised some eyebrows. O'Brien also learned that Peavy's concern over Yunel Escobar being in the deal was overblown - it's more a general concern that the pitcher joins a strong team.
- On Saturday, Ken Rosenthal had the Braves and Cubs as frontrunners with the Yankees and Dodgers on the backburner. He said the Padres discussed keeping Peavy if offers do not suffice. The Braves were said to be growing impatient.
- Astros owner Drayton McLane indicated the Padres' demands for Peavy were too high for his club - "multiple players and some of our best players."
- Chris De Luca of the Chicago Sun-Times had it as a race between the Cubs and Braves, with the Dodgers a long shot. De Luca said no other teams will be considered at this point. A Cubs deal would apparently include Sean Marshall, and possibly Kevin Hart and Mike Fontenot. Jeff Samardzija is not in the mix.
- Dave O'Brien says the Braves' offer looks something like this: Escobar, Gorkys Hernandez or Jordan Schafer, and one or two pitching prospects (possibly Charlie Morton or Jo-Jo Reyes among them). Tommy Hanson is not in the mix. O'Brien agrees that it's between the Braves and Cubs, and likes the Braves' package more. O'Brien expects a deal before Thanksgiving, which is November 27th.