It is hard, at times, to quantify how valuable a veteran leader like the Braves’ Charlie Morton. However, if you ask basically anyone in the Atlanta Braves’ clubhouse about Morton, they will talk about not only his performance on the field, but also his steady stewardship of that locker room, in particular the Braves’ pitching staff.
However, there have frankly been signs this season that Father Time was catching up with Morton. The strikeouts have been there, but we saw earlier in the season where he wasn’t getting guys to chase as much, the walk rate has crept up, the ERA and FIP have crept up, and the home run rate against him is the highest it has been in over a decade. At the end of the day, he is almost 39 years old with a lot of mileage on his arm. We have mused on the Battery Power podcast on whether the Braves would bring back Morton and at what dollar amount and it did seem like it was possible the Morton could just retire.
Well, before the biggest series of the season for the Braves, we got our answer.
The Atlanta #Braves today signed RHP Charlie Morton to a one-year contract worth $20 million for the 2023 season, with a $20 million club option for 2024 that does not include a buyout. pic.twitter.com/BnNgQmcv5q— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) September 30, 2022
For a lot of us at Battery Power, this is a bit of a surprise. Not bringing Charlie back...that did feel like a strong possibility especially given how much his teammates and the organization love him. However, the current version of Morton (especially the one that has struggled at times this September) sure doesn’t seem like he is worth paying $20 million for. The old saying is that there is no such thing as a bad one year deal (especially one that has a club option for 2024), but one does wonder, at least a little bit, if this was the best use of the Braves’ dollars.
All of that said, the exact dollar figure may not matter that much to the Braves as they are rolling in money coming off their World Series run and subsequent success this season. With pitching in 2023 seeming to be one of the bigger question marks other than the fate of Dansby Swanson, the Braves may have just wanted to get a deal done and continue that stability going into next season.