ST. PETERSBURG – The Rays on Friday made official the signing of RHP Charlie Morton, who agreed to a two-year, $30 million contract last week pending a physical.
Morton, 35, gives the Rays a veteran starter to join their rotation that includes AL Cy Young Award winner LHP Blake Snell and RHP Tyler Glasnow, and likely two days using openers.
Morton, who had middling stats in his first nine seasons with the Braves, Pirates and Phillies while battling injuries, starred during two years with the Astros.
He went 29-10, 3.36 in 55 games, striking out 364 in 313 2/3 innings, featuring a 96 mph fastball and high-spin curveball, which he threw more and better while with the Astros.
"He's always been talented," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "As he's gotten older, he's figured out his mechanics, he's figured out his strengths, he's a really smart pitcher and is ultra-focused in what he's trying to do. A lot of people think that you have to be at your peak at a time where everyone expects it. He's living proof that you can keep evolving and keep developing and get better as time goes by."
His resume includes winning Game 7 of the American League Championship Series and the World Series in 2017. (He is the first in MLB history to earn wins in Game 7 of an LCS and the World Series in the same season.)
In addition to his top-notch pitching, Morton comes to the Rays with the reputation as a good clubhouse influence.
"He's tremendous on and off the field—in the clubhouse, around the team. He's as genuine a person as I've been around in the game," Hinch said. "Everyone has a Charlie Morton story. They all center around him being selfless and all about others. I've been proud to be his manager."
A lot of people think that you have to be at your peak at a time where everyone expects it. He's living proof that you can keep evolving and keep developing and get better as time goes by.
"For me, Charlie has been probably the best teammate and one of the kindest souls I've come across, not only in baseball but in general," former Astros mate Lance McCullers Jr. said last week. "Talking about a guy who goes out there and competes for his team whether he feels great or is not feeling great. He shows up in the big moment whether you need a big start or big outs, he's always there to get them.
"Just an all-time guy. An all-time husband, father, teammate, friend. Can't say enough about what kind of person he is. And it definitely has translated to the mound and the kind of pitcher he has become over these last couple years."
Morton lives with his wife and four kids in Bradenton, which surely made the offer from the Rays even more appealing.