Las Vegas, NV — The Tampa Bay Rays seem to be doing something that many locals may say the team never does in the off-season. Spend money.
The Rays have reached an agreement with Charlie Morton on a two-year deal reportedly worth $30MM, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The deal also has a third year vesting option that could range anywhere from $1MM to $15MM pending Morton’s health, according to Ken Rosenthal (tweet).
Morton, who just turned 35 in November, has completely turned his career around since joining the Houston Astros in 2017. In his nine years prior to joining the Astros, Morton had a career record of 46-71 with a 4.54 ERA.
However, in 2016 in his short stint with the Philadelphia Phillies, something changed. An uptick in fastball velocity seemed to have changed Morton’s career. In his last season with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Morton’s average fastball velocity was 92 mph, according to fangraphs. That number jumped to 94.3 mph with the Phillies and then jumped again each of his last two seasons with the Astros.
Morton’s average fastball velocity last year was 95.7 mph, which was good for eighth highest in all of baseball among qualifying starters.
Since joining the Astros back in 2017, Morton has tossed his way to a 29-10 record with a 3.36 ERA and more impressively striking out 10.4 batter per nine innings pitched. Up from 6.3, which was his career average before joining the Astros.
Adding Morton to a rotation that already includes Cy Young winner Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow now gives the Rays three of the hardest throwing pitchers in the American League. Rays manager, Kevin Cash, has already committed to continuing to use the “opener”, however, Snell, Glasnow and now Morton will be used in a traditional role, as they were used last season.
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