Pirates sign Charlie Morton to $21 million extension

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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.

Carlos Asuaje to join Lotte Giants of KBO

Carlos Asuaje
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Rangers second baseman Carlos Asuaje is headed to Korea Baseball Organization, according to a report from Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan. Following a three-year campaign with the Padres, Asuaje was placed on waivers and subsequently claimed by the Rangers, who have yet to formalize the buyout required to move the infielder to KBO’s Lotte Giants.

Asuaje, 27, saw a sharp decline in his value during the 2018 season. He slashed a disappointing .196/.286/.280 with just 11 extra-base hits, 19 RBI and a .566 OPS, feeding into a career-worst -0.7 fWAR over 218 plate appearances. Despite a promising performance in 2017, he has yet to catch on in any meaningful way with a major-league team and stands to make a bigger impact for the Lotte Giants, who may be able to guarantee more consistent opportunities moving forward.

Final terms of the deal have yet to be reported. Asuaje is the fourth MLB player to join the Giants in recent years, a pool that included left-handers Félix Doubront and Brooks Raley and second baseman Andy Burns.