Phillies

MLB Notes: Astros to sign former Phillies SP Charlie Morton

MLB Notes: Astros to sign former Phillies SP Charlie Morton

HOUSTON — The Houston Astros have agreed to a two-year deal with free agent pitcher Charlie Morton.

The right-hander made just four starts last season for the Phillies before a torn left hamstring ended his year.

The 33-year-old Morton has spent his entire nine-year career in the National League where he played for the Braves, Pirates and Phillies.

Morton is 46-71 with a 4.54 ERA in his career. His best season came in 2011 when he pitched a career-high 171.2 innings in 29 starts and won a career-best 10 games.

Braves: Still seeking another SP
ATLANTA — The Atlanta Braves may not be finished with the dramatic overhaul of their rotation.

General manager John Coppolella told The Associated Press on Wednesday he hopes to add another starting pitcher, even after agreeing to deals with veteran right-handers R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon last week.

Chicago White Sox ace left-hander Chris Sale might be available in a trade. The Braves apparently would make top prospects available for Sale, an All-Star in each of the last five seasons who could be a trade target of many teams.

The Braves have focused on young pitchers while trading such stars as Jason Heyward, Andrelton Simmons, Justin Upton, Evan Gattis and Craig Kimbrel in recent years. When asked if the team might trade top prospects for a starter, Coppolella said in a text message: "We are considering all options."

What would spending 'stupid' money look like for Phillies this offseason?

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AP Images

What would spending 'stupid' money look like for Phillies this offseason?

Phillies owner John Middleton recently reiterated what he's been saying for years: The Phillies will spend aggressively this offseason.

This time, he was a bit more colorful about it.

"We're going into this expecting to spend money," Middleton told USA Today at the GM Meetings earlier this month. "And maybe even be a little bit stupid about it.

"We just prefer not to be completely stupid."

#LetsGetStupid

You know the usual suspects: Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. But the Phillies' needs go beyond offense and there is a top-tier left-hander on the market who could boost this rotation (see story).

Harper turned down a $300 million offer from the Nationals, so it's safe to assume he's expecting a deal closer to the $350-400 million range, one with an annual value in the neighborhood of $40 million.

It's hard to gauge where Machado's price tag will be and whether his October comments affected his market. Will he get slightly less than Harper because of it? Will he get more than Harper because of the position(s) he plays?

Including guaranteed contracts, projected arbitration figures and the raises due to pre-arbitration players, the Phillies' 2019 payroll is in the vicinity of $110 million right now. But that figure is cut in half in 2020 and next-to-nothing in 2021, when the only two guaranteed deals on the Phillies' books belong to Odubel Herrera and Scott Kingery.

Aaron Nola will have to be paid sometime before 2022, and Rhys Hoskins before 2024, but the Phils still have so much wiggle room. 

Team president Andy MacPhail has been sure to remind Middleton and others that there is baseball to be played beyond 2019. But it's not often a free-agent class has headliners like this. 

The Phils could feasibly afford both Harper and Machado, but things would get extremely tricky down the road when Harper, Machado, Nola and Hoskins are combining to make about $120 million per year between the four of them. Those are the kinds of long-term issues this front office has to consider and will consider.

 

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Phillies owner John Middleton promises to spend $$$ and Patrick Corbin would be a good buy

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USA Today Images

Phillies owner John Middleton promises to spend $$$ and Patrick Corbin would be a good buy

Editor's note: This week across the NBC Sports Regional Networks, we'll be taking an in-depth look at some of the top free agents in MLB. Friday is dedicated to left-handed pitcher Patrick Corbin.

Phillies managing owner John Middleton is quoted boldly in Friday's edition of USA Today.

"We're going into this (offseason) expecting to spend money," Middleton said at the Major League Baseball owners meetings in Atlanta. "And maybe even be a little bit stupid about it."

He went on to say, "We will be spending."

It's no secret that the Phillies are pursuing the top two position players/bats on the free-agent market — Bryce Harper and Manny Machado — and they stand a solid chance to land one of them.

But the Phillies' needs go beyond offense.

They would love to come away from this offseason with a difference-making arm in the bullpen.

Ditto for the starting rotation.

And they have a specific profile of what they are looking for in the starting rotation. That brings us to today's free-agent fit: Patrick Corbin.

Corbin, 29, has blossomed into one of the top left-handers in the game in recent seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Phillies are looking to add quality to their rotation. They are also looking for a left-hander to balance out a righty-heavy rotation.

It would be surprising if the Phillies don't come away from this offseason with a lefty starter. The market is flush with free agents like J.A. Happ, Dallas Keuchel, Wade Miley and Corbin, and there are several trade candidates such as Robbie Ray and James Paxton.

The Phils are willing to part with young talent so trading for a lefty is quite possible. But the Phils are also ready to spend — as Middleton articulated — and that puts them in good stead to land someone like Happ, Keuchel or the guy we focus on, Corbin.

Corbin finished fifth in the NL Cy Young voting in 2018. He recorded a 3.15 ERA and had a 1.05 WHIP in 200 innings. He struck out 246 and walked just 48. Since the all-star break of 2017, he has a 3.18 ERA and 329 strikeouts in 288⅓ innings.

Corbin would look really good slotted in behind Aaron Nola in the Phillies' rotation. He is expected to command a multi-year contract well in excess of $100 million and the Phillies, who have been waiting for this offseason and this free-agent class, could swing that and still sign one of the big bats.

However, they will have competition for Corbin. The pitcher was raised as a Yankees fan in upstate New York. The Yankees have made it no secret that they are looking for top-end pitching this winter and Corbin has long been rumored to be a slamdunk to be wearing pinstripes.

The navy blue pinstripes of the Bronx, not the red pinstripes of South Philadelphia.

But you never know. The Phillies want to land a high-end lefty and they like Corbin a lot. They will be in the hunt for him and maybe he will take the money that John Middleton promises to spend and those pinstripes will turn out to be red.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

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