The Atlanta Braves signed free agent starting pitcher Charlie Morton to a one-year, $15 million deal on Tuesday. He started four playoff games for the AL champion Rays and posted a 2.70 ERA. In last season's ALCS, the Rays first led 3-0 but watched the Astros tie it 3-3. Before Soroka returns, right-handers Kyle Wright and Bryse Wilson could take his rotation spot.
The Rays declined his $15-million option for the 2021 season at the end of October. While they wanted to re-sign Morton, they were unwilling to match Atlanta's offer, bringing Morton back to the team that drafted him in 2002 and with whom he debuted six years later. Atlanta could see its latest triumph in that group, slugger Marcell Ozuna, leave via free agency this winter.
The two-time All-Star played a key role as Tampa Bay reached the World Series for the first time in 12 years in the shortened season amid the coronavirus pandemic. His 10.64 K/9 is 11th among starters and, according to FanGraphs' Wins Above Replacement, Morton has pitched better than Clayton Kershaw, $118 million-man Zack Wheeler, and even his 2018 Cy-winning teammate Blake Snell.
Across a 13-year career with the Rays, Astros, Phillies, Pirates and Braves, Morton has put up a 93-89 record with a 4.08 ERA.
ESPN reported there are no incentives - or trade protections - in Morton's deal.