9:23am: Morrow gets a $2.5MM guarantee, Brock tweets. He can earn up to $5MM in incentives if he starts, and up to $1MM extra working from the pen.
8:29am: The Padres have agreed to a one-year deal with free agent righty Brandon Morrow, Corey Brock of MLB.com reports on Twitter. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported recently that the Friars had an offer on the table for Morrow, and he now tweets that it was included about $2.5MM in guaranteed money, while cautioning that he is not sure if the offer was upped.
The 30-year-old Morrow has had a roller coaster of a career. He first saw big league action with the Mariners, working mostly in relief. The Blue Jays acquired him in a trade for Brandon League and moved him to the rotation, where he showed immense promise. Even before Morrow’s earned run numbers finally caught up to his peripherals, the Blue Jays signed him to a three-year, $21MM extension that included a $10MM option for 2015.
That contract seemed destined to be a bargain when Morrow began the 2012 season with 124 2/3 innings of 2.96 ERA pitching. But he was derailed by an oblique injury, and has not been the same since. Morrow struggled with finger and forearm issues in each of the last two years, ultimately throwing only 87 2/3 innings and compiling a 5.65 ERA in the process.
Toronto shifted Morrow back to the pen last year, and ultimately made him a free agent by declining the club option that once seemed nearly certain to be exercised. The Padres will take a chance on his injury and performance struggles and hope that he can regain his prior form. As Rosenthal noted in his report, some clubs have pursued Morrow as a reliever, while his preference is to work from the rotation.
It remains to be seen precisely what GM A.J. Preller has in mind. But Brock notes on Twitter that the signing could well be a precursor to a Padres trade of an in-house starter for a bat. To an extent, of course, pitcher-friendly Petco Park offers some of the same challenges and benefits, in the inverse, that Coors Field offers the Rockies. Having already dealt for Matt Kemp, Preller may be looking to take advantage of his stock of attractive arms to deal for offense while using the ballpark as a lure to Morrow (and, perhaps, Josh Johnson).