The Atlanta Braves and right-handed pitcher Charlie Morton agreed to a one-year, $15 million deal. He’s a solid pick up if you look at his production the last couple years, but he’s also 37 years old. Are the Braves setting themselves up for another “Cole Hamels” one-year mistake? Let’s dive in.
Will this be the best rotation in baseball? pic.twitter.com/bn58ng4SVA— MLB (@MLB) November 25, 2020
Youth and production often go hand-in-hand in sports, and in terms of baseball, Charlie Morton is no longer young. But can he still be productive? There’s a possibility that the former Rays ace falls off a cliff in his late 30s and gives next to nothing in 2021. Braves fans may already be accustomed to these one-year mistakes, but there’s still a good chance this deal will work. Here’s why.
Charlie Morton is a dominant pitcher, not because he can overpower hitters with 100-mph fastballs, but because he has mastered the art of spinning the ball. Morton was amongst the American League’s best in spin rate, which often equates to success. That spin should help Charlie Morton make good on this $15 million deal and help the Braves continue to compete in the post-season.
Former Braves ace Mike Soroka, who tore his Achilles last season, is expected to make a return at some point in 2021. Now that the Braves have another trustworthy starter in Morton, they have no reason to rush Soroka back. Uncle Charlie should provide plenty of reinforcement to that rotation, and the former ace can rest until the right time. If Mike Soroka returns anywhere near his former self, the Braves are neck-and-neck with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Worth a shot
At this point, giving out one-year deals isn’t really a huge risk. What’s the worst that can happen? Morton can’t get an out, and the Braves return to their 2020 rotation. The Braves rotation really doesn’t have to be stellar anyway since they have MVP Freddie Freeman hitting behind Ronald Acuna, Jr. and Ozzie Albies.
Baseball Reference projects that Charlie will strikeout more than a batter an inning in 2021, so it seems I’m not the only one with high hopes for him. It’s been a quarter century since the Braves last won a World Series. Maybe this signing could bring that drought to an end?