Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Charlie Morton has never approached a place as one of the dominant pitchers in the National League, but in today’s MLB market, “solid” is good enough to receive big contract numbers, and Morton is reportedly taking full advantage.
Charlie Morton’s deal will be for $4M this year, $8M in 2015 and $8M in 2016 with a club option for 2017 worth up to $10M and a $1M buyout.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 11, 2013
Yahoo’s Jeff Passan is reporting a 3-year, $21 million extension between the Pirates and Morton, and with the details listed above, the deal could reach as much as $30 million. At first blush, that strikes me as a lot of money for someone like Morton, but when taking another glance, it isn’t terribly exorbitant.
The 30-year-old starter has a career 4.70 ERA (yikes) over 589 big-league innings, but in recent years, he’s become a completely different pitcher. In 2011, Morton saved a career on the brink of extinction with a 3.83 ERA (and 1.6 fWAR) over 171 innings with Pittsburgh, and in 2013 (after a shorted 2012), he followed that up with a more than respectable 3.20 ERA over 20 starts.
With that said, the peripherals certainly suggest that he’s been a bit lucky with high xFIP numbers, etc., but even “average” starting pitching production comes with a huge price tag these days. Morton will never impress anyone with his pure “stuff” (5.94 K/9 in his career), but the Pirates may have a steal when all is said and done.