BY KEVIN MCALPIN
680 THE FAN, ATLANTA – If there’s one thing we’ve come to expect from Alex Anthopoulos, it’s the desire to be aggressive when it comes to improving his clubs in the offseason. Two Novembers ago, he signed Josh Donaldson and Brian McCann and last year it was Will Smith who he added to the bullpen shortly after the conclusion of the World Series. This year has been no different, as 37 year old righty Charlie Morton has agreed to a one-year, $15 million dollar deal to return to the team that originally drafted him in the third round of the 2002 Draft out of Joel Barlow High School in Redding, CT.
Morton made his MLB debut with the Braves in 2008 before being dealt to the Pirates in exchange for Nate McLouth. After seven seasons in Pittsburgh, Morton spent the 2016 season in Philadelphia before a pair of seasons in an Astros uniform. Since the start of the 2017 season, Morton is 47-18 with a 3.34 ERA in 97 starts. Those 47 wins over that span are the sixth most in the Majors, while his 646 strikeouts rank 10th. He’s also had success in the Postseason, going 7-3 while posting a 3.38 ERA in 13 games, 12 of which were starts.
An All-Star in both 2018 and 2019, Morton was also a major piece of the Astros 2017 World Series title, a season that saw him go 14-7 with a 3.62 ERA. He followed up that impressive showing with a 15-3 campaign in 2018 and came in third in the AL Cy Young voting in 2019, going 16-6 with a 3.03 ERA in 33 starts in his first season in Tampa.
With two new pieces in place, the Braves rotation now looks a whole lot more impressive that in did two months ago. Mike Soroka will be back at some point in the first month of the season, Max Fried was a perfect 7-0 this past season, finishing fifth in the Cy Young voting, and Ian Anderson certainly looked the part, especially in the Postseason. And the team certainly has to like its depth with guys like Kyle Wright and Bryse Wilson waiting in the wings, showing some major strides towards the final few weeks of the recently completed season.
Kevin McAlpin has covered the Braves since 2012 for @680TheFan and the @BravesRadioNet