It was a bit of a surprise Friday that the Houston Astros did not extend a qualifying offer to veteran hurler Charlie Morton. Morton, 34, was a 2017 World Series champion and a 2018 All-Star for Houston. He turns 35 on Nov. 12. Morton went 15-3 with a 3.13 ERA in 30 starts this season. With roots in New Jersey and Delaware, it has been reported that Morton, if the Astros did not re-sign him, might prefer a team along the Eastern seaboard as his next destination.
Could the Nationals be a candidate to sign Morton?
His price tag would be serious and his age could be a concern, but he still has been a lethal weapon as a starting pitcher, racking up 29 wins and 364 strikeouts in 2017 and 2018 combined.
Baseball-Reference.com projects a 13-6 record and 3.59 ERA with 174 strikeouts in 2019 for Morton.
Could the Nationals view the veteran similarly to how Dodgers viewed left-hander Rich Hill. who signed a three-year deal when he was 35 in December 2016?
It seems worth the discussion since one would assume the Mets and the Phillies would kick the tires on Morton. The Phillies had him for four games in 2016 and the Nationals want to make sure they do their due diligence on any and all prominent free agent pitchers available this offseason.
In his career, Morton spent seven seasons with the Pirates. But his 29-10 mark in his time with the Astros has been his best run of his career. His 167 innings last season were his most since 171 2/3 frames in 2011. The last two years, his strikeout-to-walk ratio has been a sterling 3.26 and 3.14, respectively.
* The West beat the East 7-6 Saturday in the Arizona Fall League’s Fall Stars Game. Padres prospect Buddy Reed had the game-tying triple in the bottom of the ninth and then scored the game-winning run.