Charlie Morton, Braves reach 1-year, $20 million deal for 2023

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ATLANTA — The Atlanta Braves have reached a deal with starting pitcher Charlie Morton on a one-year, $20 million contract for 2023 with a $20 million club option for 2024 that does not include a buyout.

Morton, 38, is 9-6 with a 4.29 ERA in 30 starts this season. The right-hander went 14-6 with a 3.34 ERA in 33 starts to help the club win the World Series last year. The two-time All-Star has compiled a 23-12 record and a 3.80 ERA with Atlanta since the start of last season, and his 416 strikeouts are third-most in the NL.

His contract this season is $20 million.

Morton’s 200 strikeouts this season are fifth-most in the NL, and he is one of just three pitchers in Atlanta franchise history to log at least 200 strikeouts in multiple seasons. Hall of Famers John Smoltz (five seasons) and Phil Niekro (three seasons) are the only others to do so. Morton fanned Wil Myers on April 14 earlier this season for the 1,500th strikeout of his career.

Originally drafted by Atlanta in the third round of 2002 out of Barlow High School in Redding, Connecticut, Morton made his major league debut with the Braves in 2008.

Morton was dealt to Pittsburgh the following year in a trade for outfielder Nate McLouth and spent seven seasons with the Pirates. He moved to Philadelphia for the 2016 season before joining Houston in 2017. He then played two years with Tampa Bay starting in 2019.

Phillies, RHP Taijuan Walker reportedly agree to 4-year deal

Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports
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SAN DIEGO – The active Philadelphia Phillies added Taijuan Walker to their rotation on Tuesday, agreeing to a $72 million, four-year contract with the right-hander.

A person familiar with the negotiations confirmed the move to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because it was pending a physical.

It was the second major free-agent score for the Phillies at the winter meetings after they reeled in shortstop Trea Turner on Monday with a $300 million, 11-year deal. Walker and Turner join a Phillies team that made it to the World Series this year before losing to the Houston Astros.

The 30-year-old Walker went 12-5 with a 3.49 ERA in 29 starts this season for the New York Mets, one of Philadelphia’s biggest NL East rivals. He slots into a rotation fronted by Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola.

The Phillies recently lost pitcher Zach Eflin in free agency to Tampa Bay.

Asked about the market for Walker earlier in the day, agent Scott Boras said it was robust.

“As you can see in the marketplace, there’s a whole number of pitchers that are throwing 60 and 70 innings that have been pursued, probably with the exception of (Jacob) deGrom, at the lower end of threshold around $13-15 million a year because the demand for quality pitching is so great,” Boras said.

“So, Tai … is one of the younger ones, one of the more durable ones and we expect him to be pursued greatly as his market unfolds.”

Walker was selected by Seattle with the No. 43 pick in the 2010 amateur draft. He made his big league debut with the Mariners in 2013.

Walker signed with New York as a free agent in February 2021. He turned down a $7.5 million player option last month in favor of a $3 million buyout, making his deal worth $17 million over two seasons.

The 6-foot-4 Walker made the All-Star team for the first time in 2021, putting together a fast start before fading to a 7-11 record with a 4.47 ERA in 30 games, 29 starts.