The Houston Astros, in need of upgrades to their starting rotation, made a move to lock down the back end on Thursday. According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the Astros have agree to a two-year, $14 million deal with free agent starter Charlie Morton. The contract also includes up to $5 million in performance incentives.
Source: Morton deal with #Astros is two years, $14M.
Morton deal with #Astros also includes incentives of $625K each at 15, 20, 25 and 30 starts each year.
Charlie Morton Joins Houston Astros
The 33-year-old righty first broke into the big leagues with the Atlanta Braves in 2008, but has spent the vast majority of his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Last season, he pitched for the Philadelphia Phillies. Though never spectacular, Morton has at least been solid in his time as a MLB starter. His lifetime 4.54 ERA won’t turn any heads, but he has had some good years.
His strongest campaigns came in two consecutive seasons for the Pirates. In 2013, he recorded a career-best 3.26 ERA in 20 starts. The next year, he set personal records in WHIP (1.27) and strikeouts (126). He also had a good season back in 2011, when he recorded a 3.83 ERA while pitching 171.2 innings and winning 10 games, both career-highs.
Last year, with the Phillies, Morton made just four starts before a torn hamstring ended his season. In that limited action, Morton pitched to a 4.15 ERA with 19 strikeouts. If he returns to full health and limits his free passes, Morton could be a solid fifth starter for the Astros. An ERA hovering around 4.00 will get the job done. At the very least, Morton represents depth, which in never a bad thing to have. The Astros are looling to challenge the Texas Rangers for the AL West title next season. Morton won’t make the difference in that fight, but his presence won’t hurt, either.