Braves sign Charlie Morton
By and large the league has been incredibly inactive thus far this offseason, but the Braves have been a rare active club. Not too long after signing Drew Smyly, the reigning NL East champs have made another addition to their rotation. It was another one-year deal this time around as well as Atlanta inked Charlie Morton to a one-year deal worth $15 million.
Morton was part of what had been a very good Rays rotation that could look quite different in 2021 between this departure and the potential for a Blake Snell trade. Regarding Morton specifically, the veteran was one of the best starters on the market this year, having been one of the best pitchers in the game from 2017 through 2019. Last year, however, he took a bit of a step back, finishing the year with a 4.74 ERA and a strikeout rate lower than it had been since 2016. For a lot of established players like Morton, we can largely throw away underperformance in a season like 2020, but the righty is also looking ahead to his age-37 season. It’s entirely possible that this was a sign of what’s to come for him.
Even with that said, though, this was worth the risk for a Braves team that had its rotation as its biggest weakness all season. They are working hard to turn it around for next year, and while I’ve seen some talk of them being elite in that area which seems premature to me, it’s certainly improved. As for the Red Sox, on the one hand Morton would have been a great target for them on a one-year deal, but there are other veterans who can fill that role like Corey Kluber. Plus, this move did also involve the Rays getting worse, which is always good for Boston.
Ha-Seong Kim to be posted today
Infielder Ha-Seong Kim, one of the best position player free agents on the market this winter, is expected to be officially posted by the Kiwoon Heroes of the KBO today. It had previously been rumored he’d be posted after Thanksgiving, so this is a bit earlier than originally expected. Teams will have 30 days to negotiate a deal with Kim. As we’ve discussed before, Kim is a fine all-around infielder that should generate plenty of interest on the market as a 25-year-old who can stick at shortstop. It will be a crowded market so I wouldn’t exactly call the Red Sox favorites, but as a team that could use a second baseman it’s a name to keep an eye on.
Sonny Gray could be available in trade
Yesterday we got the Blake Snell rumors, and today we have another small-market team that may be trading one of their best players. This time around it’s the Reds, who reportedly may be listening to offers on Sonny Gray. This is a Cincinnati club that just made the playoffs and is also losing Trevor Bauer this winter. It doesn’t appear that this is a sure thing or anything, but this would be a big addition to the market. While Gray struggled a bit with the Yankees a few years ago, he has a 153 ERA+ over the last two seasons since joining the Reds with almost 11 strikeouts per nine innings. Under contract through 2023 at a reasonable price (a bit over $10 million for 2021 and 2022 plus a $12 million team option for 2023), Gray will not be cheap but he’d be a major addition for a Red Sox team in desperate need of help in the rotation.