3. Charlie Morton
The top of the Astros' rotation faltered in the ALCS. Justin Verlander wasn't his usual sharp self, but even worse were the struggles of Cristian Javier and Framber Valdez. Now, with confidence in the young aces waning and Verlander approaching his age-41 season, the Astros could target help on the starting pitching front.
Charlie Morton awaits the Braves' decision on a $20 million team option. At 39 years old, Morton has been the focus of retirement rumors and free agent speculation all season. He was good-not-great by his usual standards last season. Once the playoffs arrived, he was sidelined with a finger injury during the Braves' depressingly short run.
Morton finished the 2023 regular season with a 3.64 ERA and 1.427 WHIP. His strikeout rate dropped, his walk rate increased a concerning amount, and his command wavered more than expected. At the same time, he was still a solid innings-eater for a very competitive Braves squad. Morton spent two seasons with the Astros from 2017-18, which included a World Series victory in 2017 and an All-Star appearance in 2018. So, members of the organization are familiar with him. He also has a long history of postseason success. That is where the Astros' aspirations lie.
If the Braves decide to part ways with Morton, the Astros could swoop in with a lucrative short-term offer to allow Morton once last stab at glory. He would profile as the third or fourth option behind Verlander and Valdez, but he was occupying a similar spot for the Braves last season. He's not a Cy Young candidate anymore, but Morton still has the veteran savvy to get the job done.