The Tampa Bay Rays have made a move to upgrade their starting rotation. They have reportedly agreed to terms with free agent starter Charlie Morton.
Free agent starter Charlie Morton and the Tampa Bay Rays have agreed to a two-year, $30 million deal, sources told Yahoo Sports.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 12, 2018
Morton was a key cog for the Houston Astros as they won the World Series in 2017. He followed that up with the best season of his career in 2018, going 15-3 with a 3.13 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and a 10.8 K/9 rate.
On the one hand, starting pitching was already a position of strength for Tampa. The Rays starters posted a 3.68 ERA in 2018, the seventh-best total in baseball. But Tampa was also one of the league’s most aggressive teams at using the “opener” strategy — calling on traditional relief pitchers to start games with very short outings. The Rays starting pitchers threw a league low 624 innings in 2018. The next lowest team (the Los Angeles Angels) had 805.1 innings from the starters.
Morton figures to be a sizable upgrade in that regard. If nothing else, that should give the relievers more rest when bullpen games are needed.