So help them, God, the Atlanta Braves will extend every player. If you so much as breathe near Truist Park, you’re going to sign an extension with the Braves.
The latest is another re-up with righty Charlie Morton, who I feel like has now signed this same deal three years running:
Morton, who turns 39 in November and will be coming off a league-average-ish season, was never a good bet to hit the free agent market and do the whole looking-around thing. We know from his recent past that he pretty much exclusively wanted to stay in the southeast, and if he’s happy in Atlanta, that might be the only place he was going to keep pitching.
And that’s where this signing is slightly meaningful in a broader context. Morton continuing to pitch into 2023 takes up a rotation spot as far as the Braves’ offseason shopping might have gone (i.e., one less OTHER arm that they might’ve signed away from the Market, and $20 million used) – and since Morton wasn’t going to sign anywhere else, this is slightly helpful on the pitching market for a team like the Chicago Cubs, which will want to have as many quality options available as possible.
I also find all things Morton interesting because of his unique career trajectory. For nearly a decade spent between the Braves, Pirates, and Phillies, Morton was just good enough to keep getting big league innings, but never quite good enough to hold down a sure-fire spot (he would routinely spend time in the minor leagues as teams tried to keep him at the edges of the roster, as he dealt with minor health things – he was a depth guy). It wasn’t until he was 33 that he really started to break out with the Astros. Since then, he’s been about 15% better than league average.
That kind of age-30+ emergence for a pitcher is rare, but sometimes there’s a reason a guy keeps getting looks and stays right there at the edge for so long – it’s because teams can tell he’s close. And maybe he’s just one adjustment away from steadying himself into a regular. (Yes, I am pretty nakedly thinking about Adrian Sampson’s success this year, and trying to talk myself into “what if this is his moment” situation.)