Charlie Morton, Atlanta Braves
With all the young pitching in Atlanta, the Braves front office decided to reward their senior citizen. So they gave the 39-year-old Morton a one-year, $20 million deal, perhaps as a farewell present.
Since every move the Atlanta front office turns to gold these days, it’s no surprise that Morton turned in a solid season. He was 14-12 with a 3.64 ERA in 30 starts, covering 163 innings. Only Spencer Strider and Bryce Elder pitched more.
Among starters, only Max Fried had a lower ERA or a better ERA+. With his 3.1 WAR, Morton trailed only Strider in that category. His +1.0 WPA was solid.
Morton’s career development is an object lesson in growth. Ten years ago, the best sentence a batter could hear was, “You’re facing Charlie Morton.” Into his 30s, he was a sub-.500 pitcher with ERAs often in the fours.
The transformation began with his arrival in Houston at age 33 in 2017. Since then, he’s 42 games above .500 and routinely delivering 30 starts per season, as he did for Atlanta this year. He’ll be a postseason starter in part because he has the credentials: a 7-5 record with a 3.60 ERA in 17 postseason starts. Transactional grade: A-