Morton agreed Tuesday with the Braves on a one-year, $15 million contract, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports.
As the 37-year-old prepares for what could be his final season in the big leagues, he'll return to the organization that originally drafted him back in 2002. While Morton never found success at the MLB level during his time in Atlanta, he's quietly emerged as one of baseball's more reliable starters over the back nine of his career, submitting sub-4.00 ERAs and sub-1.20 WHIPs in three of the past four seasons. While missing time with a shoulder injury in the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign, Morton finished with a 4.74 ERA and 1.39 WHIP across 38 innings, but the underlying peripherals (18.8 K-BB%, 0.9 HR/9, 3.89 xERA) were generally encouraging. After having his $15 million club option declined by the Rays earlier this offseason, Morton will end up taking home the same payday while he moves on to Atlanta.
Morton's team option was declined by the Rays on Friday, Juan Toribio of MLB.com reports.
Morton's option would have paid him $15 million. While the Rays are famously hesitant to spend, and while the pandemic is expected to suppress wages this offseason, that's still seemingly quite a good price for a pitcher who has posted a 3.34 ERA over the last four years, so the decision is something of an odd one. Morton will turn 37 in November, and he did post a 4.74 ERA in nine regular-season starts in 2020, though his 3.45 FIP indicated that was likely a small-sample blip, and he bounced back with a 2.70 ERA in four playoff starts. It's conceivable that this transaction foreshadows a retirement for the veteran righty, though no such decision has been announced by the team or the player.
Morton allowed five runs on seven hits and one walk while striking out six across 4.1 innings to take the loss against the Dodgers in Game 3 of the World Series on Friday.
Morton never settled into the start after allowing a solo home run to Justin Turner in the first inning. He then surrendered a pair of runs in both the third and fourth frames, with the final result being a short and subpar outing. Other than this effort, Morton has been excellent in the postseason, maintaining a 2.70 ERA with a 23:5 K:BB across 20 frames.
Morton threw 5.2 shutout innings to pick up the win in Game 7 of the ALCS against the Astros on Saturday, striking out six while allowing just two hits and one walk.
Morton was dominant against his former team, not allowing a single runner to reach scoring position until there were two outs in the sixth inning. He's built up quite an impressive postseason resume in recent years, earning victories in Game 7 of both the ALCS and World Series as a member of the Astros in 2017 as well as a wild-card win with the Rays last season. He's now the first pitcher with four career wins in winner-take-all postseason games.
Morton picked up the win in Game 2 of the ALCS against the Astros on Monday, striking out five while walking one and allowing five hits in five shutout innings.
It took Morton 96 pitches to get through five innings against his former team, though the Rays don't seem to mind trusting their deep bullpen with quite a few innings most nights. The veteran righty didn't retire the side in order until his fifth and final frame, though he only once allowed a runner to reach scoring position with less than two outs. Morton likely lines up to start Game 7, should the series go that far.
Morton picked up the win during Game 3 of the ALDS against the Yankees on Wednesday after allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits with six strikeouts and two walks over five innings.
The 26-year-old ran into trouble during the third inning but stranded the bases loaded after giving up a run, and he stranded a runner on second base after giving up a run-scoring double during the fifth inning. Morton had a strong outing in his first playoff start of the year and will look to carry that into the ALCS if the Rays can close out the series.
Morton allowed four runs (three earned) on seven hits and one walk while striking out eight over five innings in Friday's win against the Phillies. He didn't factor into the decision.
Morton sputtered in the third inning Friday as he gave up three runs, and he left the game with the Rays trailing. The team went on a late run to secure the win, but the production came too late to put Morton in line for the win. The right-hander posted a 4.74 ERA and 1.39 WHIP over 38 innings during the regular season and should serve as a starter during the postseason.
Morton (2-2) earned the win over Baltimore on Saturday, hurling five innings and allowing one run on five hits and two walks while striking out six.
For just the second time since returning from the injured list on Sept. 2, Morton was able to make it through five innings, yielding a single run to pick up his first victory since Aug. 4. Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of his performance was his final pitch count of 94, which bodes well for the veteran's ability to throw without limitations in the postseason. Between a shoulder injury that cost him nearly three weeks and an uncharacteristic 4.64 ERA, the 2020 campaign has been mostly disappointing for Morton, but he could provide a significant boost to the Rays' rotation if he's able to peak heading into the playoffs. He'll have one more regular-season tuneup, currently scheduled for Friday at home versus Philadelphia.
Morton allowed three runs on six hits and no walks while striking out four over 4.1 innings in Sunday's loss to the Red Sox. He didn't factor into the decision.
The Rays' offense provided Morton with a narrow lead in the fourth inning, but the advantage quickly slipped away in the top of the fifth inning, forcing him to settle for a no-decision. On a more encouraging note, the right-hander threw 77 pitches (55 strikes) as he continues to steadily build back up to full strength following his month-long absence. Barring any setbacks, the right-hander should be able to handle a full workload by the time the postseason begins in two weeks. Morton's next start should come on the road Saturday against Baltimore.
Morton (1-2) took the loss Monday, giving up three runs on four hits and a walk over five innings in a 6-1 loss to the Nationals. He struck out three.
The right-hander threw 57 pitches (45 strikes) before exiting, as he continues to build his stamina back up after his month-long absence from the rotation. Morton now has a 4.94 ERA and 24:7 K:BB through 23.2 innings this season, but he should at least be close to fully stretched out for his next start Sunday, at home against the Red Sox.
Morton allowed no hits and two walks while striking out four across two innings Wednesday against the Yankees. He did not factor into the decision.
Morton threw 36 pitches in his first game action since Aug. 9. He showed some rust as only 20 of his 36 pitches found the zone, but was still effective overall. Perhaps most importantly, he was regularly hitting 95 mph with his fastball at the beginning of his outing, with his velocity fading a bit as his pitch count rose. Morton will likely remain on a limited pitch count in his next outing, currently projected for Tuesday at the Nationals.
The Rays activated Morton (shoulder) from the 10-day injured list ahead of his scheduled start Wednesday against the Yankees, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Morton will return to the rotation for the first time since Aug. 9 after missing time due to right shoulder inflammation. The Rays haven't specified where exactly Morton stands in his buildup program, so he could face a more limited pitch count than normal in his first start in three and a half weeks.
Morton (shoulder) will return from the injured list to start Wednesday against the Yankees, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Morton has been out since early August with shoulder inflammation. He owns a poor 5.40 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP through four starts this season, though nearly all the damage was done in his poor season debut against the Blue Jays, who scored six runs off him in just four innings. It's not clear what sort of workload he'll be able to handle immediately upon his return, though he'll likely be on some sort of pitch count.
Manager Kevin Cash said Morton (shoulder) will likely return from the 10-day injured list to start either Tuesday or Wednesday against the Yankees, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Morton's shoulder responded well to his latest bullpen session Saturday, leaving Cash optimistic that the right-hander will be ready to rejoin the rotation this week. Before he was shut down with the shoulder injury, Morton recorded a 5.40 ERA, 1.50 WHIP and 17:4 K:BB In 16.2 innings over his four starts.
Morton (shoulder) will throw one more bullpen session before the Rays consider reinserting him into the rotation, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
The veteran right-hander completed a simulated game Thursday and threw 25-to-30 pitches, but the team wants at least one more session on the mound before making a decision. If all goes well in the next bullpen session, Morton could rejoin the starting rotation sometime next week, though he's unlikely to be built up to a full workload by that point.
Morton's (shoulder) sim game Thursday went well, Neil Solondz of the Rays Radio Network reports.
Morton was scheduled to throw 25-to-30 pitches over two innings Thursday, and that session went well. Manager Kevin Cash called the sim game a "big step in the right direction." Despite his positive progress Thursday, it still remains unclear when the right-hander could return to the starting rotation.
Morton (shoulder) will throw a simulated game Thursday, Neil Solondz of the Rays Radio Network reports.
Morton had a successful bullpen session Monday, and he's set to throw 25-to-30 pitches over two innings during a sim game Thursday. A timeline for the right-hander's return to the Rays' rotation still hasn't been established, but he's been making positive strides in his recovery so far.
Morton (shoulder) threw a bullpen session Monday that went well, Neil Solondz of the Rays Radio Network reports.
Morton has progressed smoothly in his recovery from right shoulder inflammation, and he cleared another hurdle with a successful 25-pitch bullpen. The team still hasn't decided whether his next throwing session will be another bullpen or live batting practice. It's unclear when the right-hander will be ready for game action.
Rays manager Kevin Cash said Morton (shoulder) will throw a 25-pitch bullpen session Tuesday, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
A successful bullpen session would mark another key checkpoint in the recovery process for Morton, who resumed throwing long toss over the weekend. Unless the Rays elect to accelerate Morton's return to the active roster, he likely won't be reinstated from the injured list this week and will instead face hitters in live batting practice or a simulated game if Tuesday's side session goes according to plan. Morton has been sidelined since Aug. 9 with right shoulder inflammation.
Morton (shoulder) was scheduled for a long-toss session Sunday, Alyson Footer of MLB.com reports.
Morton has been making steady, setback-free progress via bullpen sessions over the last several days, and there had even been talk at one point he could be activated to start a game during the ongoing weekend series against the Blue Jays. That possibility was eventually ruled out, but Morton could be close to a return if he continues to build his arm strength up without any issues. The veteran right-hander noted it's a bit of a tightrope walk at the moment, considering that it's necessary at times to up the intensity of the throwing sessions to get an accurate assessment of progress while acknowledging such a strategy also comes with an element of risk.
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