The Astros have made an initial offer to bring right-hander Charlie Morton back to Houston, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). The dollar amount of the reported offer is yet unclear, though Nightengale does specify that it’s a one-year contract with an option for a second year.
Vague as the terms may still be, it seems reasonable to expect that the total value of the pact of for less than $17.9MM. Houston surprisingly declined to make a qualifying offer at that rate to Morton, so it’d be curious to see them turn around and offer Morton anything north of that sum.
Morton, who turned 35 last week, at one point voiced uncertainty as to whether he planned to continue his playing career beyond the 2018 campaign, but he recently stated that he planned to continue pitching and would “love” to return to the Astros. However, he’s also made clear that he doesn’t plan to keep playing into his late 30s, citing a desire to spend time with his growing family. To that end, Morton suggested to The Athletic’s Jake Kaplan back in April that proximity to his wife’s family in Delaware could be a factor, were he to consider teams outside of Houston. The Phillies and Nationals would most closely meet that criteria.
Whether Morton wants to pitch another two years isn’t certain, but there’s little doubt that he should be able to find a strong multi-year offer on the open market after rapidly elevating his status upon signing with the Astros. Morton’s two-year, $14MM with Houston proved to be a remarkable bargain, as the righty made 55 starts in 2017-18 and pitched to an excellent 3.36 ERA with 10.4 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 0.92 HR/9 and a 49.6 percent ground-ball rate. Perhaps, given the uncertainty about how long he wants to continue his career, a one-year pact with a substantial value and some form of vesting or player option would hold appeal to Morton. However, a guaranteed two-year deal should materialize in free agency if he wishes to lock himself into another couple of years.