MLB Rumors: Charlie Morton Drawing Interest from 8-10 Teams in Free Agency

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistNovember 10, 2020

FILE - In this Wednesday, July 8, 2020, file photo, Tampa Bay Rays' Charlie Morton throws during baseball practice in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson, File)
Mike Carlson/Associated Press

Veteran starting pitcher Charlie Morton won't be lacking for options this offseason after the Tampa Bay Rays declined his $15 million option.

"According to sources, at least eight to 10 teams have already expressed some level of interest in [Morton]," MLB.com's Mark Feinsand reported Monday.

Feinsand added that re-signing with the Rays "appears to be Morton's first choice" but that Tampa Bay isn't expected to offer more than $10 million annually. At the very least, the team won't be putting a $15 million deal on the table after declining his option.

Robbie Ray agreed to a one-year, $8 million deal with the Toronto Blue Jays, which led one National League executive to tell Feinsand that Morton should earn "considerably more."

Trevor Bauer is likely on the verge of winning the NL Cy Young Award, and he's seven years younger than Morton. That makes Bauer the most prized starting arm on the market.

Of course, he can only sign with one team, which leaves Morton as a great alternative for whoever loses out.

Morton, who turns 37 on Thursday, went 2-2 in nine starts with the Rays in 2020, finishing with a 4.74 ERA and 3.45 FIP, per FanGraphs. Since 2017, he's tied for 13th in WAR (13.0) among starting pitchers.

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His postseason pedigree will make him attractive for franchises with playoff ambitions in 2021. Morton has allowed 23 earned runs and struck out 67 batters in 13 postseason appearances. He took the bump for the Rays in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series and held the Houston Astros scoreless over 5.2 innings of work.

Because of his age, getting a contract that extends for more than two years will probably be tough.

In general, teams might be hesitant to commit to long-term agreements as they continue to grapple with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. That could make Morton's list of suitors more robust than that of Bauer, assuming the latter will want to capitalize fully on his career year.