Pirates sign Charlie Morton to $21 million extension


Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reports that the Pirates and right-hander Charlie Morton have agreed to a three-year, $21 million contract extension that also includes a team option for 2017.

Morton would have been eligible for free agency next offseason, but now the Pirates will have him under team control for $4 million in 2014, $8 million in both 2015 and 2016, and $9.5 million or a $1 million buyout for 2017.

Pittsburgh acquired Morton from Atlanta in the mid-2009 deal for Nate McLouth and he’s emerged as a solid mid-rotation starter with a 3.75 ERA during the past three seasons. However, the ground-ball machine has also thrown a total of just 338 innings over that three-year span, including making only 20 starts this year and eight starts last year due to Tommy John elbow surgery.

Buying out his first two (and potentially three) years of free agency for a modest $21 million commitment is a smart risk for the Pirates, because if healthy Morton certainly would have been in line for a lot more on the open market next winter.

Mets pitcher Jason Vargas to have surgery on his non-throwing hand

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Yesterday the Mets announced that lefty Jason Vargas sustained a non-displaced fracture of the hamate bone in his right hand as the result of a comebacker during a spring training start. This morning they announced that Vargas will have surgery, which should cause him to miss the first week or so of the season.

Vargas will have the surgery tomorrow. Given that it’s on his non-throwing hand, he won’t miss much time — just a week or so of action, with another few days to get back up to speed afterward. He actually threw a bullpen session this morning. The issue is that he can’t catch a ball right now.

Vargas, 35, signed a two-year, $16 million pact with the Mets last month. With him missing a couple of starts, the Mets should break camp with both Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler in the rotation. The two had been fighting for the final spot.