The Atlanta Braves are unmoved by the pandemic and its financial impact, once again signing a pitcher to a one-year deal at a rate few were anticipating.
This time, it’s outgoing Tampa Bay Rays righty Charlie Morton, who exploded into a Statcast darling in his 30s, and is probably still pretty darn good:
BREAKING: Charlie Morton has agreed to terms on a one-year, $15 million deal with the Braves. The deal was negotiated by Andrew Lowenthal and BB Abbott of Jet Sports. It’s the largest free agent contract so far this offseason.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) November 24, 2020
Notably, that is the option the Rays turned down on Morton, 37, and is just not that different from what you’d expect a guy in his situation to get in a normal market. Ditto Drew Smyly, whom the Braves signed to a one-year, $11 million deal last week.
Also notable? The Braves are the one team owned by a publicly-traded company, so they are not able to hide the wreckage of the financial downturn, either last year (they did lose a ton of money) or next year. Yet, here they are signing pitchers to one-year deals at market rate. Interesting, right?
Now, the mild push-back is that both pitchers got only one-year deals (which we also saw for Robbie Ray and the Blue Jays), and maybe that’s a peccadillo with this market. But if guys taking one-year deals for 2021 (pandemic plus the expiration of the CBA) allows them to get better rates, then you do wonder if the guys the Cubs have on one-year deals could look all the more attractive as buy-low, bounce-back opportunities. Maybe teams are simply going to be extraordinarily averse to multi-year contracts this offseason, even if they’re willing to pay decent one-year salaries, not knowing if that means taking another big loss in 2021?