UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal is johnny-on-the-spot, and shares the details we’ve been wanting:
Brandon Morrow’s deal with #Cubs, if completed, will be two years, $21M, sources tell The Athletic. Morrow would earn $9M in 2018 and $9M in ‘19 with a $3M buyout or $12M vesting option for 2020.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 11, 2017
Now you can see why earlier reports had difficulty summing up the deal in a strict X years, Y dollars sense. So, Morrow’s deal could max out at three years and $30 million, but only if that final option year vests (presumably based on appearances, innings, and/or health). There is still a little more detail missing on how the buyout will play (sequentially), but based on Rosenthal’s info, the Cubs are going to be obligated to pay that buyout, at a minimum, no matter what. So, then, you can consider this deal to be two years and $21 million, with the possibility that it’ll be three years and $30 million if the option vests and Morrow wants to stick around in 2020.
This will also be a fun case in finding out how vesting options factor into luxury tax AAV calculations. I believe Morrow’s deal is treated, for now, as a $10.5 million AAV, but would drop to $10 million if the option vests. Since it’ll be known to vest (or not) by the time the 2019 season ends, I think the Cubs might get the benefit of that slightly lower AAV in 2019 and 2020, but I’ll have to dig in more to work out the particulars.
Original post follows.
Although every source is in agreement that the Chicago Cubs have agreed to a deal with reliever Brandon Morrow – pending a physical – there hasn’t been a definitive statement on just what that deal is.
Moreover, the way the details came out disparately was a little curious. Jon Heyman initially reported that the deal was for something in the $10 to $11 million annual range, but without any years attached. Then separately, Jeff Passan reported that it was a two-year deal with an option (no mention of club or player), but without any dollars attached.
Now, I’m wondering if the reason the details were broken up and unclear like that is because no one is yet getting the full picture. MLB reporter J.P. Hoornstra says that any reports of a 2/$20 million deal are not accurate (h/t MLBTR). Technically, no one has reported that specific set of numbers, they’ve just been extrapolated from separate reports. But, in any case, Hoornstra is saying 2/$20 million is not the deal.
Whether that means it’s actually 2/$22 million, or it’s actually three years, or the initial report isn’t factoring in a healthy buyout price on the option year … who knows. I’d expect those details to come out soon, though, and I’ll be looking to find out what I can.
It would make a substantial difference if the deal were suddenly a three-year contract worth $10 or $11 million annually – that dividing line between two and three years, given Morrow’s injury history and sudden breakout at age 33, just feels significant to me.