One of the Astros’ key contributors over the last two seasons finds a new professional home.
Morton’s new contract with the Rays initially looks like a fair deal for both sides. Not only do the Rays bolster an already quality pitching staff in the short-term, but the veteran right-hander also signs a contract inches closer to his market value at $15 million per season. By WAR-to-dollar, Morton was worth nearly $25 million last season. Don’t forget that his contract with the Astros was worth $14 million total in base salary. There is also a third-year vesting option for another potential $15 million that hinges on his health over the first two seasons in the contract.
Compared to his career earnings of nearly $41 million in base salary across eleven major league seasons, the $30 million guarantee is a nice payday.
When the Astros elected to not extend Charlie Morton a $17.9 million qualifying offer, it was met with a lot of scratching heads. After all, the age-35 right-hander just came off a 3.1 fWAR season with a 3.13 ERA across 167 innings. For a club preparing for life after Dallas Keuchel and the injury woes of Lance McCullers, the decision to let Morton test the open market was a bit odd. Perhaps Morton’s late-season right shoulder injury played a role in the front office’s decision.
Although Morton only pitched two seasons as an Astro, he leaves a lasting legacy on the organization. He will always be remembered as the pitcher who helped clinch Houston’s first World Series title.
Morton also helped lead the club to a franchise-record 103 wins in 2018. His candid interviews were always a delight along with his ability to help balance the clubhouse. If one were able to quantify off-the-field contributions, Morton’s surplus value would’ve been much higher. From the outside looking in, the right-hander looked like a genuine dude. Here’s to you, Charlie Morton. I hope you never pay for another beer in Houston.