Atlanta Braves “aggressively pursuing” free-agent starter Charlie Morton

The Atlanta Braves kicked off the 2020 off-season by adding Drew Smyly to their rotation. Is there more to come?

Following suit of the 2019 off-season, the Atlanta Braves front office is wasting no time to address their needs.

While he isn’t a household name, the Braves added on a decent arm with the signing of a left-handed pitcher in Drew Smyly.  Smyly had a decent but short seven-game campaign with the San Francisco Giants in 2020.

Starting pitching depth loomed over the Braves heads during the 2020 post-season as they only featured 2 dependable arms in the rotation — those two being Max Fried and Ian Anderson.

This, unfortunately, led to a tired bullpen during much of the NLCS against the Dodgers.  However, there could be another addition to the starting rotation coming, according to MLB.com’s Mark Bowman.

Charlie Morton has come a long way since his debut with Atlanta back in 2008 and he is coming off a tough 2020 season after posting two All-Star worthy seasons with Houston and Tampa Bay.

However, there’s no reason to doubt he could get back to form in a normal length season.

His 2020 stat line looks like this:

  • 2-2
  • 38.0 IP
  • 4.74 ERA
  • 43 H
  • 20 ER
  • 4 HR allowed
  • 10 BB (2.4 BB/9)
  • 42 K (9.9 K/9)
  • 3.45 FIP

So while the ERA is high, Morton still had much success with keeping his walk numbers down and strikeout numbers high.

He would be a most welcome addition to this Atlanta Braves staff. Especially when you think about Mike Soroka making his return in 2021.

The 2021 Braves rotation could include Mike Soroka, Max Fried, Ian Anderson, Drew Smyly, and Charlie Morton. That’s of course only if they end up signing Morton to a deal. Otherwise, Kyle Wright and Bryse Wilson would likely fill that final spot.

Morton to the Braves makes a lot of sense and his age would pose much less risk if he were offered a short-term deal (2 years maximum).

The 37-year-old featured an ERA of 3.34 including 10.64 K/9, 2.98 BB/9, and a 48.4 percent groundball rate through his previous four seasons, which included a 3rd place finish in the Cy Young Award voting for 2019.

Alex Anthopolous has been able to work magic with short-term deals in the past few seasons and Morton would be a much more affordable deal to make rather than for someone like Trevor Bauer.

Atlanta features a great defense and for a pitcher that induces ground balls over 50% of the time during his career, this couldn’t be a better match for either him or the Braves.

With a question mark around how early Mike Soroka could return to the Atlanta rotation, I think Morton is a safe bet for Anthopolous and the Atlanta Braves to make.