On Friday, the Tampa Bay Rays announced that the team wouldn’t be picking up Charlie Morton’s $15 million option, making him a free agent. With the New York Yankees having interest in signing starting pitchers, could the team consider picking up Morton for a short-term deal?
Morton’s short tenure in Houston from 2017-2018 revived his dying career. His 3.36 ERA in two seasons with the Astros made him a big free-agent name heading into 2019. The Rays signed him to a two-year deal, pitching to the tune of a 3.05 ERA with a 16-6 record, finishing in third-place in AL Cy Young award voting.
2020 did see Morton take a step in the wrong direction, hence the reason why the Rays declined his option. He went 2-2 with a 4.74 ERA in nine starts this season.
Over his career, Morton has proven to be one of the best big game pitchers. In 2017, he started game seven of both the ALCS and World Series. One-run outings in each game led the Astros wins in both games and a title. Morton’s 7-3 with a a 3.38 ERA in 13 career postseason starts.
Now this leads to the question on if he could be a good fit on the Yankees. Although Morton is older, he’s gotten better with age and still has velocity. The team recently declined their option on JA Happ, potentially opening a spot for Morton. Additionally, James Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka are free-agents, and their spots could be filled by either free-agents or in-house talent.
If the Yankees decided to pursue Morton, it would be a short-term deal, meaning only one or two years. He may still have a little left in the tank, and possibly enough to hold up the back end of the Yankees rotation in 2021.