Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and starter Charlie Morton are nearing agreement on a contract. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that the deal is for two years and $30 million in total.
Morton, 35, is coming off of the best season of his career. With the Astros, he went 15-3 with a 3.13 ERA and a 201/64 K/BB ratio in 167 innings. The right-hander set a career-high in strikeout rate (28.9%) as well as average fastball velocity (95.7 MPH). The rub with Morton is that it’s been difficult for him to stay healthy throughout the duration of his 11-year career.
Morton will slot in behind Blake Snell in the starting rotation. The Rays will likely use the “opener” strategy once again in 2019 as well, just likely not with Snell and Morton.
The Athletic’s Sahadev Sharma reports that the Cubs have considered trading super-utilityman Ben Zobrist in order to free up payroll space, which would allow the club to address other areas of the roster.
Zobrist, 37, is entering the final year of his contract and will earn $12 million in 2019. According to Cot’s Contracts, the Cubs project to have an Opening Day payroll of about $204.5 million, just a hair below the luxury tax threshold of $206 million. The Cubs have notably been absent from the free agent marketplace, particularly involving Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, due to luxury tax concerns.
Last season, Zobrist hit .305/.378/.440 with nine home runs, 58 RBI, and 67 runs scored in 520 plate appearances. He played all over the field, logging 100-plus innings in both outfield corners and second base while also spending a handful of games at first base. With Addison Russell serving a 40-game suspension to open the 2019 season, Javier Báez will handle shortstop and Zobrist figures to be the starting second baseman.