Astros: Goodbye, Charlie Morton

codypoage
SEATTLE, WA - JULY 31: Charlie Morton #50 of the Houston Astros sets himself on the mound to pitch in the third inning against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on July 31, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - JULY 31: Charlie Morton #50 of the Houston Astros sets himself on the mound to pitch in the third inning against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on July 31, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images) /
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One of the Astros’ key contributors over the last two seasons finds a new professional home.

The man who closed out Game 7 of the 2017 World Series for the Astros, Charlie Morton, is now a member of the Rays. And I can’t help but be happy for the guy.

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.

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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.

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