Morton agreed to a two-year, $30 million contract with the Rays on Wednesday, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports. Morton did not receive a qualifying offer from Houston after logging a 3.13 ERA and 1.16 WHIP across 30 starts for the team in 2018. The 35-year-old has been a reliable pitcher the past two seasons after undergoing season-ending hamstring surgery in April of 2016, and he should slot in behind Blake Snell as the No. 2 arm on Tampa Bay's staff. In 313.2 innings of work dating back to that hamstring tear, he's recorded 364 strikeouts to just 114 walks and a 1.0 HR/9.
Morton is not expected to receive a $17.9 million qualifying offer from the Astros before Friday's deadline, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports. Morton will be one of the more sought-after arms in free agency this winter after going 15-3 with a 3.13 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 10.8 K/9 across 30 starts (167 innings) for the Astros in 2018. Over the past two seasons with Houston, the veteran right-hander owns a 3.36 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 10.4 K/9 across 55 starts. Should Morton sign elsewhere, there will now be draft pick compensation attached.
Morton gave up three runs on three hits with two walks over 2.1 innings in a no-decision against the Red Sox in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series. He struck out two. It was trouble from the start as Morton gave up a two-run single to Rafael Devers in the first inning and surrendered an RBI double to Xander Bogaerts that ended his outing in the third inning. The right-hander's first appearance of the postseason was disappointing to say the least, as it took him 53 pitches to get through 2.1 innings and he allowed five baserunners in addition to two wild pitches. The 34-year-old now has an 11.57 ERA in the postseason.
Morton will start Game 4 of the ALCS against the Red Sox on Wednesday, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports. Morton was not needed during the Astros' ALDS sweep of the Indians, but with the ALCS being a best-of-7 series, he'll get the start for Game 4. No word has come forth as to whom he will face from Boston, but he'll have to get through a potent Red Sox offense in his home start Wednesday.
Morton allowed just one hit and one walk while striking out four across three innings in a no-decision against Baltimore on Sunday. As expected, Morton was on a limited pitch count as the Astros gear up for the postseason. On a positive note, it didn't look like he had any problems with the shoulder soreness that caused him to leave last weekend's start after just one inning. Though nothing has been made official at this point in time, it's expected that Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole will take the mound versus the Indians during the first two games of the ALDS, so look for Morton to start Game 3 or 4 in Cleveland.