On the morning of PirateFest (and with Morton scheduled to appear as one of the featured players), the Pirates sent him off to Philadelphia for minor league pitcher David Whitehead.
No sugarcoating this one: Whitehead isn’t much of a prospect, and this was a clear salary dump. Morton was set to make $8 million in 2016, plus a team option for 2017 for $9.5M (with a $1M buyout). That’s not bank-breaking Money, and it seemed reasonable when Morton signed an extension after a good season a few years ago, but after a rough finish to 2015, it doesn’t look so good anymore.
I prefer to look at it this way: the Pirates are still going to spend that money – and more – hopefully more effectively – on Starting Pitching (and potentially first base). They have a lot available now. Regardless of how upset or frustrated you may be about how high the Pirates’ payroll should be, everyone agrees it will at least top last year’s and top $100M…and now after this move, they have a lot of flexibility to even reach that number. So there’s more coming. How will it be spent? We’ll see. But something else is coming.
And a lot more is needed right now in the starting Pitching department. The Pirates really only have four starters right now, and one of them is Jeff Locke. They’ll certainly find a fifth, but depth is important, too. Taillon and Kingham may be relied upon eventually, but probably not to begin the year. So going forward this winter, all eyes will be on the front office to add some quality pitching with the money that has recently been freed up.
As for Morton, I’m bummed. I can’t really argue with the decision to essentially punt on him – he disappointed this year, and for all his positive strides, there were constant setbacks that made him maddening to watch…but for some reason he was always one of my favorites. He was a great and thoughtful dude by all accounts, and we saw him come a long way from an absolutely nightmarish start to his Pirates career. He and the Pirates invested a lot into changing that for the better, and they definitely accomplished quite a bit, and that was really satisfying to watch. It’s too bad there wasn’t a happier ending.
Original article: Morton (and his money) to Philly
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