Braves Rumors: Charlie Morton is back, isn't that a good thing?
Charlie Morton exercised his $20 million option on Monday, meaning he will remain with the Atlanta Braves heading into the 2024 season. Morton had a successful 2023 stint, in which he pitched to a 3.64 ERA. By no means is that bad, and the Braves would surely sign up for that production again in the middle of their rotation. Max Fried, Spencer Strider, Bryce Elder and Morton make for a good rotation core for Anthopoulos to build around.
However, there's a slight issue here -- depth. Morton is soon to be over 40 years old. Towards the end of the last season, Morton struggled on the mound and lost several MPH on his fastball. He'll likely regain that edge by spring training, but the Braves need to be careful with him. Kyle Wright is also out for all of next season. That $20 million means Anthopoulos has less money to repair Atlanta's rotation the way he needs to.
Gray, if he's willing to drop his price tag, could still be a potential fix. Aaron Nola is almost certainly out of the question despite Jeff Passan connecting the two sides prior to Morton's decision.
Nola certainly fits what the Braves prioritize in starting pitchers: low walks, high strikeouts, lots of innings. And while his 2023 left plenty to be desired, his expected numbers weren't nearly as rough as his 4.46 ERA. Nola has never been a stuff guy, so in order for him to age gracefully, he'll have to rely on control and command," Passan wrote.
Now, the Braves must look elsewhere in what's considering a pretty weak starting pitcher market.