Why the Braves Will Pick Up Charlie Morton's 2024 Option
The Braves have a club option for $20 million in 2024. As mentioned, Morton will be 40 in November but compared to other big-name 40-year-old pitchers, Morton is a steal at $20 million. Max Scherzer is making more than double Morton's salary and has a higher ERA (3.77 to 3.66) and both have a 3.2 WAR in 2023.
For the price tag, Morton is a great value in 2024. Alex Anthopoulos is not one to pass up a great value. Morton finished 5th in the NL in strikeouts in 2022 and is 10th in the NL in K/9 in 2023. His curveball is still one of the most filthy pitches in the game. The curveball ranks in the 98th percentile in spin rate.
Looking at curveballs with the most movement shows the violence of Morton's breaking pitch. Morton's curveball ranks in the top half in both horizontal movement and vertical movement. Batters are hitting just .179 against his curveball this season with a 42.1% whiff rate.
In short, his curveball is still one of the best in the game.
His fastball has maintained velocity, as well. Morton averaged 92.8 and 92.1 mph in 2019 and 2020, respectively. In 2021 he averaged 94.1 mph, 2022: 93.7 mph, and has averaged 93.8 mph this season. Morton's stuff is still there.
Without Morton in 2024, the Braves will face a lot of uncertainty beyond Fried, Strider, and Elder. As you know, you can never have enough starting pitching (this year being a good example). Bringing Morton back is a no-brainer for the Braves. The question now is whether Morton will want to return.