Winners of three consecutive NL East titles, the Atlanta Braves have some up short of reaching the World Series, narrowly missing out this past season. This off season, the Braves signed pitcher Drew Smyly and now added 37-year old Charlie Morton to the mix. Morton agreed to a one-year deal worth $15 million in hopes to be the final piece of a championship team for 2021.
Charlie Morton will join Smyly and a young group of starters in Max Fried, Ian Anderson, and Mike Soroka. Morton has been one of the top pitchers in the league since 2017, going 45-16 with an ERA of 3.24. However, the remainder of his career has been mediocre at best, posting a record of 48-73 with an ERA of 4.54.
Clearly, Morton has pitched well, but one must wonder how much he benefitted from playing for a dominating Houston Astros team and very good Tampa Bay squad. Also, it must be pointed out that Morton posted a lackluster 4.74 ERA in 10 starts for the AL champion Rays in 2020.
Charlie Morton became available to the Atlanta Braves after the Rays turned down a $15 million option and were not willing to match the Braves’ offer, which doesn’t have a no-trade clause or incentives. The Braves now boast the best pitching rotation in the division, should Drew Smyly and Morton come through. Those are big question marks.
After all, Morton is 37 and while excellent the from 2017-2019, there was decline last year and one must wonder if he can recapture the magic. Just last season the Braves took a gamble on signing veteran Cole Hamels and it blew up in their face. He was injured from the get-go and appeared in only one game, posting a 8.10 ERA in 3 1/3 innings. The Atlanta Braves can only hope that the signing of Morton, which is a clear indication of adding a final piece to win now, doesn’t end up producing similar results.