The Braves upcoming decision on Charlie Morton’s option isn’t difficult, but it may not be theirs to make

MLB: JUL 02 Marlins at Braves

When it comes to Charlie Morton, a lot of Braves fans are split regarding just how valuable he is to the team.

Some believe he’s not worth the $20 million the Braves are paying him. In a vacuum, that makes some sense. He’s been good but not great this season, and over the last two years, he’s been wildly inconsistent. However, It’s not like Morton signed a five-year, $100 million contract with the Braves. It was only for one year, and when looking at it like that, it would be damn near impossible to find a pitcher as talented as Charlie Morton that would accept a one-year contract for equal or lesser value.

Morton has 100% been worth the deal that he signed, and he comes with a $20 million option for 2024, one that I’m almost positive the Braves would like to pick up. He’s been a steady hand in Atlanta’s rotation this season, posting a 3.54 ERA and 9.8 K/9 over 24 starts. Morton’s also an invaluable presence as a veteran to the younger arms and has loads of postseason experience. However, the decision to keep Charlie Morton around for one more season won’t be up to Alex Anthopoulos and the Braves brass; it will be up to Morton himself.

“I don’t think about that,” Morton said when asked a question about how much longer he can defy Father Time. “I think about, ‘When am I going to go home?’ I always thought the game was going to dictate when I went home. If you look at my career, there was no reason why I wouldn’t think that. There was no reason to think that I was going to start having the best years of my career at age 33, or that my best years would be in my late 30s. There was no reason to think I would still be throwing the ball like I am now. It would have been illogical.”

Charlie Morton’s career should be studied by baseball historians when he finally does decide to hang it up. For the first nine years of his career, primarily with the Pirates, he was a decent pitcher but certainly nothing to write home about, posting a 4.54 ERA from 2008-2016. It wasn’t until Morton arrived in Houston, where they completely altered his repertoire, that his career took off.

Focusing more on his fastball and curveball combination, Morton blossomed into a frontline starter in his mid-30s. He’s posted a combined 3.54 ERA since 2017, appearing in two All-Star Games and finishing third in the AL Cy Young race. He also helped the Astros and Braves win a World Series.

Now 39-years-old, Morton’s mindset is much different when it comes to retirement. He knows he still has the stuff to succeed at the highest level, and that may not change anytime soon, but that’s not what is going to decide when he hangs it up.

“I went into this year thinking that I wanted to go home,’” Morton said. “That was my mentality, but I can’t have that mentality right now. I’m trying to win a World Series. I don’t want to think about either retiring or keeping going. Frankly, it’s kind of exhausting to think about next year in any shape or form. My attitude is that I’m going to carry the good parts of my year into the offseason. Then it’s up to me.”

Despite what any Braves fans want to say about Charlie Morton’s faults and whatnot, the Braves decision heading into this offseason is easy. His $20 million option for 2024 should be picked up, especially with so many questions currently surrounding the rotation. Without Morton, this team wouldn’t have the best record in baseball, and they certainly wouldn’t be considered World Series favorites. Bringing him back for another year is another painless decision for Alex Anthopoulos, but it may not be a decision the Braves GM gets to make at the end of the season.

Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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