New Rays right-hander Charlie Morton has been open in the past about his uncertainty surrounding how long he aims to continue playing, and he told MLB Network’s Jon Morosi that he is “fully expecting” to retire once his current contract with the Rays expires (Twitter link).
The 35-year-old signed a two-year, $30MM contract with Tampa Bay this offseason, allowing him to pitch closer to his Florida home. Morton’s contract also contains a vesting option for the 2021 season, which leaves open the possibility that he’ll pitch through his age-37 season, though that’s far from a certainty at this point.
Signed by the Astros to a two-year contract prior to the 2017 season, Morton broke out as an unexpected star in Houston, not only giving the ’Stros 313 2/3 innings of 3.36 ERA ball but also providing some memorable postseason moments. The righty fired five shoutout innings against the Yankees in the decisive Game 7 of the 2017 ALCS, pitched six innings of one-run ball against the Dodgers in Game 4 of the 2017 World Series and closed out that same World Series in Game 7 with four innings of relief.
He’ll now join an upstart Rays club that carries similar postseason aspirations after surprising many onlookers with a 90-win season in 2018. Tampa Bay reportedly plans to only utilize three traditional starters — 2018 Cy Young winner Blake Snell, Morton and young Tyler Glasnow — with the other two would-be rotation spots being occupied by “openers.” Ryne Stanek, Emilio Pagan, Colin Poche, Wilmer Font and Hunter Wood are all reportedly in the mix for that role (Stanek was the team’s most frequent option in 2018), while lefties Ryan Yarbrough and Jalen Beeks and right-hander Yonny Chirinos are currently the lead followup options.