Morton signs 1-year extension with Braves

October 1st, 2022

ATLANTA -- Charlie Morton will pitch again next year, and there is a chance the veteran hurler will still be part of the Braves’ rotation when he is 40 years old.

Just before the start of Friday night’s game against the Mets, the Braves announced Morton had agreed to a $20 million extension for next season. The deal includes a $20 million club option for 2024.

This extension comes 20 years after the Braves took Morton in the third round of the 2002 MLB Draft. The team’s other selections that year included Jeff Francoeur, Brian McCann and Chuck James, who have all long since retired.

Meanwhile, Morton is prepared to begin his 16th MLB season next year and extend the great success he has had during the latter part of his career. The 38-year-old right-hander has recorded 200 strikeouts in each of the past four 162-game seasons, each of which elapsed after he turned 34 years old.   

How significant is that? Well, the only pitchers to record at least four 200-strikeout seasons at 34 or older are Randy Johnson (seven), Nolan Ryan (seven), Roger Clemens (four), Steve Carlton (four) and Morton (four).  

Morton has posted a 4.29 ERA while totaling 167 2/3 innings over his first 30 starts this year. He hasn’t been as effective as he was while posting a 3.34 ERA last year, which began his second tenure with Atlanta. But he has occasionally still looked like a frontline starter while posting a 3.88 ERA in his past 25 starts.

Morton is the only MLB pitcher 38 or older to record five double-digit strikeout games this year. The Astros’ Justin Verlander is the only other member of this group with three such games this year. 

When Morton signed with the Astros after the 2016 season, it looked like his playing days might be nearing their end. He had produced a 4.54 ERA while making 162 career appearances (161 starts) for the Braves, Pirates and Phillies.   

But Morton resurrected his career in Houston and now ranks sixth among qualified starters with the 3.52 ERA he has posted since the start of 2017.  

Morton was 33 years old when he joined the Astros. Through next year, he will have made $92 million since pitching the final four innings of Houston’s Game 7 World Series win in 2017.  That figure would jump to $112 million if the Braves do bring the veteran back to pitch in 2024, when he’ll be 40.