The Atlanta Braves are one of baseball's most entertaining squads, mainly because of their young core. However, the presence of a seasoned veteran for a team like this often times goes underappreciated. For the Braves, this man is Charlie Morton.
Morton is 10-6 with a 3.20 ERA while striking out 115 batters in 104 innings pitched. These are solid numbers that no one is talking about due to the shadows of all-star Bryce Elder and Spencer Strider. Charlie Morton is perfectly content letting them have the spotlight and buying into his role, which makes him that much more valuable. The question is how long is he sticking around?
Charlie is in his 16th MLB season in 2023 after inking a 1 yr/$20 million deal with the Braves. At the age of 39 and 1900+ big league innings pitched, retirement seems inevitable. Many speculated this announcement would come after he was struck by a comebacker in the 2021 World Series resulting in a broken leg. Almost two years later, he is still taking the mound every fifth day for the Braves and doing it effectively.
Morton has constantly faced adversity throughout is career. Whether it was because his performance level was not meeting his expectations or he was fighting back from injury, these challenges have turned Morton into one of baseball's greatest competitors.
The resilience of Charlie Morton makes his career decision after 2023 that much harder to speculate. His presence on the mound and in the locker room around young pitchers is something the Atlanta Braves have grown acustom to and will miss when the time comes for him to depart.
Watching the 39 year-old veteran in his last start against the Chicago White Sox pump 96 mph fastballs makes it seem he could be emptying the tank to give 2023 all he has since it could be his last. On the other hand, that could just be vintage Charlie Morton competing like he always has.
There is a strong likelyhood Morton's retirement decision will result in the Braves sucess in 2023. If the Braves achieve their ultimate goal of winning another World Series, expect to see Charlie ride off into the sunset. If the Braves end their season similar to the last, expect him to consider a return.
With the consistent competitiveness and the valued intangibles that Charlie Morton brings into the Atlanta Braves clubhouse, if Charlie wants to keep going, that one-year $20 million team option for 2024 has a good chance of being exercised.