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Report: Rays sign Charlie Morton to two-year, $30 million deal

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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.

Clayton Kershaw to make Opening Day start for Dodgers

Clayton Kershaw Opening Day
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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts confirmed it in March and he confirmed it again on Tuesday: Clayton Kershaw will start on Opening Day, Jorge Castillo of The Los Angeles Times reports.

The Dodgers are one of four teams that will open the 60-game regular season schedule on July 23; everyone else begins play on the 24th. With a 10 PM ET start, the Dodgers will host the Giants at Dodger Stadium.

Johnny Cueto will likely pitch opposite Kershaw for the Giants. Cueto was named the Giants’ Opening Day starter on March 11, before the league shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. Manager Gabe Kapler hasn’t yet officially named an Opening Day starter for the makeshift season.

Kershaw, 32, made the Opening Day start eight consecutive times for the Dodgers from 2011-18. Hyun-Jin Ryu, now a Blue Jay, pitched on Opening Day last season for the Dodgers. Last year, Kershaw logged 178 1/3 innings over 28 starts and one relief appearance, his highest innings total since 2015. He went 16-5 with a 3.03 ERA, 189 strikeouts, and 41 walks.