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.
I’d love to see Morton back as a 4 in the rotation. You can tell he’s starting to run out of gas a bit by his time misses towards the end of the season, but he’s been and could be a integral piece in getting back to the playoffs. Can he pitch in the playoffs is another story.
JJ Wattcha Going to do Brother
So who’s your #3? Trade?
Waitings The Hardest Part
If the astros really wanted to they could acquire Degrom.
It’d take Whitley James Perez Stubbs and another prospect or two at or near mlb ready but they could.
Garden pass. Whitley could be degrom as early as this season.
DeGrom was almost inarguably the best pitcher in the league this season. Saying Whitley could be that is a gross overstatement.
He is the best pitching prospect in baseball. saying he couldn’t come.up and absolute dominate is ridiculous.
DeGrom was literally THE best pitcher in the League this season – setting that kind of bar is dead-set ridiculous. You’re looking at a genuine 1%’er scenario. Any expectation of that happening is an expectation too high.
I’m not saying he couldn’t come up and dominate, but that’s fairly unlikely. He is, after all, a prospect. He’s more likely to struggle. Even most Hall of Fame pitchers weren’t lights out at age 21.
That said, saying Whitley = deGrom this season is ridiculous. I have serious doubt Whitely will be the best pitcher on the club, much less all of baseball.
He has dominated at every level, including the AFL, where no one dominates.
I would think at this point McHugh is number 3 in the rotation.
JJ Wattcha Going to do Brother
I would agree unless a trade happens.
He doesn’t need to be a starter necessarily. We have a huge amount of talent to change things up.
Dude was a top 30 pitcher in every metric and he’s your “#4”? Your standards are absurd
“Can he pitch in the playoffs is another story.”
Is this a submission for silly questions of the week?
I think the most pressing issue with Morton is whether he make it past 5 IP. He’s no question lights out over the first 5 innings but seems to make too many pitches, sees too many 3-2 counts and loses his effectiveness around 80 pitches thrown. He’s not an ace for that reason.
Right, but that’s not what the discussion was about.
When you have Verlander, Cole and Keuchel, hes your 4.
You don’t have Keuchel.
He seemed to want to stay in Houston (though I guess he’s open to pitching close to Delaware, too?). I’m not surprised Houston didn’t make a QO if they can get him for 2 for 20-24 total, with the second year an option. He probably doesn’t want to sign more than a two year deal anywhere. Would anyone pay him nearly $18 mil for one year?
I was stunned that the Astros didn’t make him the QO and think he’d have multiple suitors at $18MM for one year. He was one of the 25 best starting pitchers in baseball in 2018 by virtually any measure.
If we weren’t going to limit himself geographically, I’d imagine he could get $36MM+ over a two-year term. That’s scarcely more, at least on an annual basis, than what Rich Hill was paid for a contract that runs through his age-39 season.
Was the QO decision before or after they knew McCullers was done? Wonder if that would’ve changed their decision?
McCullers’ Tommy John news wasn’t announced until after the QO deadline, but the organization and McCullers have both indicated they knew awhile ago that Tommy John was going to be necessary.
McCullers said in an interview that he knew at the end of August he would require Tommy John surgery but was told he could pitch an inning at a time if he could stomach the pain. He was going to miss the entire 2019 season and playoffs at that point anyway, so he chose to gut it out.
He may be a top 25 pitcher by most metrics but as I stated above, he doesn’t pitch deep into games. He rarely made it past 5 IP the past two years and often got blown up when he did. I imagine that this factored heavily in the decision not to make him a qualifying offer. He’s also getting old so this issue is likely to get worse over the next few years.
Hope he stays. Really good fit.
Would love to see the Angels pet him away from Houston but realize the geography masked it highly unlikely.
Pry him away*
That is a funny autocorrect!
I find it amusing that the article refers to the Nationals and the Phillies as the two teams that most closely fit the criteria of being near Delaware. I seem to recall a major league team in Maryland somewhere.
I’m still looking because the post said MAJOR league team in Maryland.
The nationals are in Maryland too. I know you’re talking about my Orioles but let’s be honest here we aren’t going to be paying Charlie Morton 15MM dollars. It’s just not happening.
The Nationals are not in Maryland. Unlike the “Washington” Redskins who play in Maryland, the Nats play in Washington, DC.
I heard that they had an MLB team in Maryland at one time. Are they planning on bringing one back soon?
As soon as Flushing Queens gets a team
I would think the Orioles’ 115 losses would be the biggest reason for exclusion.
Like most lifelong MLB fans, I always had an enormous respect for how the O’s did things. Even now, if I had a team I thought that was close to contention, I’d hire Bucky to manage it….in a heartbeat.
Obviously they’ve come off the rails, and no, it’s just not that they haven’t paid enough attention to analytics. The Red Sox, Royals and Giants are among the least analytically oriented FOs in MLB….and they’ve done all right this decade. So actually have the Orioles.
But a new orientation is obviously need; maybe the new guy can bring it. It’s going to be tough; unmovable contracts, a HUGE bill coming due because of the MASN mess, fans staying away in droves from what is still one of the nicest stadiums around. Lots and lots of work to do…..
The Red Sox have the second largest analytics department in baseball, by all accounts, and were the team that actually created an analytics departmet by hiring Bill James a decade+ ago….Not sure where you’re getting your information.
I don’t think I have ever seen anyone anywhere refer to Showalter as “bucky” – thought that was reserved for Mr. Dent and the Get Fuzzy comic strip lol. Thumbs up for bucking the trend.
I don’t think it’s necessary to explain the exclusion of the Orioles on any major free agent, given their 115-loss season and commitment to a total organizational rebuild.
Steve was it this site that posted the article that had the number of people in each teams analytics department?
There used to be one, in the 60s and 70s. Named after some kind of bird, I think. But 35 or so years ago they decided competing in the Majors was beyond their means.
So they just function as a farm team, and sell off talent to actual contenders.
Morton knew he wasn’t going to ask for or receive a four or six year deal, so a QO wasn’t going to matter to the Stros or him… He knew he was going to get paid if he wanted to pitch.. Effectively making the QO moot or it would only mucked up the chance for him to decide if & where he wanted to play.. Making an “initial” offer is without a doubt in the best interest of the Stros..
Good negotiation stance on their part…
Finally someone who gets it. The Astros did him a favor. Charlie gave them TWO great years at a very cheap rate. In late 2016 he didn’t even think he was going to get a ML offer. Would Love for Charlie to come back, but if he doesn’t I Thank him for his two years and wish him continued success.
Lol let’s not pretend like they did it for Morton. The Astros are smart and know money probably isn’t the biggest factor in where he signs. They knew they could probably get him back at 15-16 mil and save a couple more million. These GMs are all numbers guys, they value saving a couple million bigly.
At least I wont get shut out of the FA contest if this turns out to be true
1-3 for the contest, not bad. No way Morton signs anywhere besides Houston.
You sure about that?
I hope that the Astros give Josh Jmaes a shot in 2019. He’s on my fantasy team.
Thank God! I was so sad thinking the Stros were gonna let CFM walk away and retire. Glad to see they came to their senses.
I think Morton will have a big market for his services. Here’s a guy that has mid rotation ability and is looking to go year to year with no draft pick compensation. He may like Houston that much but don’t think there won’t be others bidding
True. Although since he has never acheived the same level of success anywhere else in his career, I am highly doubtful he will seriously consider any other offers. He has also made it very clear he will retire from Houston with the Astros.