One of the surprises of the 2019 Free Agency crop in Major League baseball is that Charlie Morton is available.  The Astros did not sign him before he hit free agency and they did not extend him a qualifying offer.

Nathan Eovaldi In Demand

Why does that matter to the Red Sox?  Because Nathan Eovaldi is suddenly starting to attract attention in the market.  A quick google search will show the Yankees’ interest.  And shockingly, curveball enthusiast Lance McCullers is going to miss the 2019 season for the Astros due to Tommy John Surgery.  According to many, this puts Eovaldi on the Astros list.

All of this is to say, the Red Sox will have a lot of competition for Eovaldi.  And while we rightly sing songs to his World Series heroics, it’s not like Eovaldi is the second coming of Pedro Martinez.  So it’s worth asking, if Eovaldi signs elsewhere, are there legit replacements available?

Charlie Morton

Let’s play a choose your own pitcher game.  Here are the average stats for the past two active seasons of each pitcher.  One of these is Charlie Morton, the other is Nathan Eovaldi:

  • Pitcher A: 118 innings, 23 starts, 4.28 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 7.6 K/9, 2.5 BB/9
  • Pitcher B: 157 innings, 27 starts, 3.53 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 10.4 K/9, 3.3 BB/9

Can you guess which is which?  A is Eovaldi, B is Morton.  Charlie Morton gets a bad rap that he’s injury prone, but he’s averaging 157 innings a year, which is what you need from a number 3, 4 or 5 starter.  He walks a few more than Eovaldi but strikes out a lot more too.

The fact that Morton, like Eovaldi, is right-handed also works in his favor.  The Sox already have three left-handers in Sale, Price and Eduardo Rodriguez.  There are a lot of right-handed bats on the Red Sox closest competitors, the Yankees, and Astros.  Having a right-handed starter to counteract Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sanchez, George Springer, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, and Carlos Correa is a necessity.

One other nugget about Morton: He is the forerunner of Eovaldi in terms of bullpen work in the ALCS and World Series in 2017.

Charlie Morton is 35 years old, 6 years older than Eovaldi, and because of that, there will be less demand for his services.  MLB Trade Rumors state, and I love this, that Morton is aging like fine wine.  They also estimate a 2 year $32 Million deal for him, verse a 4 year $60 Million deal for Eovaldi.

The Alex Cora Connection

There’s that man again.  Cora worked with Charlie Morton last year with the Astros, he has the inside knowledge on this guy.  Because of this, if there is smoke out there about the Sox interest in Morton I would believe it.

To me, Nathan Eovaldi is the Number 1 priority for the Red Sox in Free Agency.  But if the numbers start to creep towards $20 million a year I think the Red Sox should search for alternatives.  Charlie Morton is a great back up plan.