Former Astros righty Charlie Morton became the latest player to address Houston’s electronic sign-stealing scandal, telling MLB.com’s Juan Toribio and other reporters that “personally, I regret not doing more to stop it” during his time with the club in 2017, while also admitting that he wasn’t certain what steps he could have taken to directly halt the sign-stealing system. Morton has already spoken to some Rays teammates about the situation, and added that he didn’t believe the Astros were still doing anything illicit last October, when Houston defeated Tampa Bay in the ALDS.
2017 was a particularly unique year for Morton, as he wasn’t just a big part of a World Series-winning team, but his entire career was revived while pitching for the Astros, turning him from a borderline journeyman to his current top-of-the-rotation status in Tampa. Despite his own fond memories, however, Morton knows and accepts that the Astros’ achievements have been overshadowed by the scandal. “Certainly the public perception of that win has changed, and my peers, too….There are moments during the World Series that will always be special to me, that won’t be ’tainted.’ But certainly that’s justified, that’s a justified perception to have, and what people have expressed,” Morton said.
More from around the AL East…
- Between all of the uncertainty surrounding the Mookie Betts trade and yesterday’s Padres/Rays trade that sent Manuel Margot to Tampa Bay, there has been some speculation that the Padres could be clearing center field for a late strike at acquiring Betts. However, Alex Speier of the Boston Globe (Twitter link) suggests the opposite, noting that since Margot was reportedly part of the Betts negotiations between the Red Sox and Padres, sending Margot to the Rays indicates that San Diego decided to go in another direction.
- The Blue Jays went into the offseason prepared to aggressively search for pitching, only to have to ramp up their approach when the free agent market moved much quicker than anticipated, Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi writes in a wide-ranging overview of Toronto’s winter moves. Davidi’s piece provides a breakdown of how the Jays pursued their targets, ranging from big names (i.e. Gerrit Cole, Yasmani Grandal) on both the rotation and position player fronts, as well as looking for value by checking in with seemingly just about every pitcher available. The Winter Meetings seemed to be a key pivot point, as one player agent told Davidi that the Jays began to take a “totally different” approach in negotiations: “It’s like they realized what they’d been doing wasn’t working and decided to change things up.” In essence, the Toronto front office reversed its strategy, abandoning the plan of acquiring an ace-level arm first and then adding more pitchers to a new tactic of signing mid-rotation hurlers (i.e. Tanner Roark, Shun Yamaguchi) before finally landing a big fish in Hyun-Jin Ryu.
- Adding to the long list of pitchers known to have garnered interest from the Blue Jays, Davidi reports that Toronto was also “in the mix for” both Alex Wood and Angel Sanchez. Wood ended up signing with the Dodgers, one of his former teams, in mid-January on a one-year contract worth $4MM in guaranteed money (and another $6MM in incentives). Sanchez bounced around multiple farm systems from 2011-17 with a Major League resume that included only 12 1/3 innings for the 2017 Pirates before finding success pitching in Korea over the last two seasons. While Sanchez received some looks from the Jays and other MLB teams, he ended up heading from South Korea to Japan, signing a multi-year deal with the NPB’s Yomiuri Giants.