The New York Mets saw a potential free-agent target sign with a division rival on Tuesday morning as starting pitcher Charlie Morton inked a one-year, $15 million deal with the Atlanta Braves, as first reported by MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand.
After the Tampa Bay Rays declined their 2021 option on the 37-year-old right-hander, he was quickly linked to the Mets as a potential option to bolster the bottom half of their rotation. In fact, the Mets reached out to Morton’s agent earlier this month.
Feinsand added that the Mets apparently were not a serious option in Morton’s book, with the Braves and Rays as his finalists. It was well-known that the righty wanted to stay on the East Coast near his home in Bradenton, FL.
The Mets will now have to pivot to a different lower-end rotational option to round out the pitching staff that still has several holes to fill.
Behind Jacob deGrom, the only known arms ready for Opening Day are Marcus Stroman and David Peterson as Noah Syndergaard completes his recovery from Tommy John surgery and Steven Matz’s future with the team remains in flux.
The Mets are expected to be in play for 2020 NL Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer, which would create a premier duo alongside deGrom, but another arm is needed to guarantee starting-pitching depth.
With Morton off the board, the Mets still have an abundance of free-agent options that will call for similar money and provide similar production to the newest Brave.
Initial options range from former AL Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber, Jake Odorizzi, and Masahiro Tanaka. ESPN’s Buster Olney previously reported that the Mets have shown interest in Odorizzi, who struggled during an injury-shortened 2020 season with the Minnesota Twins.