According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, the Pittsburgh Pirates and right-handed pitcher Charlie Morton have agreed on a three-year extension worth $21 million. The deal includes an option for a fourth year that could make the deal worth up to $30 million.
The deal breaks down as follows: $4 million in 2014, $8 million in 2015 and 2016 and a $9.5 million option for 2017 with $500,000 in incentives. Morton had already been projected to make nearly $4 million in 2014 through arbitration, so the deal is essentially a two-year, $17 million extension with an option for a third year. The extension buys out two of Morton’s free agent years.
Getting Morton for three-years, $21 million (or even four-years, $30 million if the option is exercised) is a steal for the Pirates. When healthy, Morton is a very good pitcher at this stage of his career. After changing his entire pitching style and modeling himself after Roy Halladay, Morton became a much more effective pitcher than he had been prior to the adjustments.
After that, he had to undergo Tommy John Surgery and lost a good bit of time while recovering and rehabbing. Morton returned in the 2013 season and was very good.
Last season, Morton went 7-4 with a 3.26 ERA in just 116 innings. His biggest strength is his sinker, which leads to an extremely high ground ball rate. 62.9 percent of the balls put in play against him in 2013 were ground balls. He allowed just 0.47 HR/9.
If his performance alone doesn’t make this extension look great for the Pirates, then look no further than the free agent market. Scott Feldman received three years and $30 million from the Houston Astros, and Morton is a better pitcher than him. If Morton is able to stay healthy for the majority of this extension, it will clearly be a win for the Pirates.