Astros rumors: Team makes offer to keep starting pitcher Charlie Morton
The Houston Astros have reportedly made an offer to retain starting pitcher Charlie Morton, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports.
The Astros are in obvious need to shore up there starting rotation, with the loss of Lance McCullers Jr. for the next season and the likely departure of free agent Dallas Keuchel. Rumors are that Houston has put an offer on the table to bring back Charlie Morton for one more year, with an option for a second year.
The amount of the contract has not yet been disclosed. Morton was not granted a qualifying offer by the Astros, so it is safe to assume the overture would be less than the $17.9 million that would have been extended by Houston.
This would be an important piece of the puzzle, to keep intact one of the major reasons for their success, a formidable group of starting pitchers. Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole are currently the only two pitchers guaranteed to return for the 2019 season. McCullers underwent Tommy John surgery and will miss the upcoming season. Keuchel declined the qualifying offer by the Astros and is garnering quite a bit of interest by other teams.
Morton has been a valuable member of the Astros rotation in the two years he has spent with the team. The 35-year-old won 29 games against 10 losses and had an ERA of 3.36 over that period. Last season he eclipsed 200 strikeouts in 30 appearances with a respectable 1.16 WHIP (BB+H/IP). He joined Verlander and Cole on the roster of the 2018 All-Star Game.
The return of Morton and the possibility of bringing back Collin McHugh and/or Brad Peacock out of the bullpen to a starting, would all but alleviate the need for Houston to trade away prospects or spend big for a pitcher. This would allow the Astros to concentrate on the glaring need for a catcher and other pieces to the keep this team playing in the postseason.