Morton signs one-year deal, will return in 2023

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

The Braves on Friday answered the most pressing question about the 2023 starting rotation.

If you were wondering, Charlie Morton will return.

The Braves on Friday announced that they signed Morton to a one-year contract worth $20 million for the 2023 season. His new deal has a $20 million club option for 2024 that does not include a buyout.

“Stability,” manager Brian Snitker said of what Morton has meant to the club. “Just having a guy like Charlie, with his history -- he’s still throwing the ball well, (his age) doesn’t matter -- and the innings and all that. The ball’s been coming out good all year. He kind of got in his groove there (this season).

“It’s just good to know that he’s going to still be here.”

Last September, the Braves gave Morton this same extension. He is making $20 million this season and had a $20 million club option for next year.

Thus, the Braves simply added a year to that deal, keeping its same framework.

The 38-year-old Morton has a 4.29 ERA over 30 starts this season. Despite an up-and-down year, he reached the 200-strikeout mark for the second straight year.

He has struggled in stretches this year, which left you wondering whether Atlanta would pick up his option and bring him back at $20 million. The Braves made their decision.

It appears the 2023 rotation will include Max Fried, Spencer Strider, Kyle Wright and Morton. At this time, it seems like the fifth-starter spot will be up for grabs next spring.

Morton has experience and is known as a big-game pitcher. He also fits in well in Atlanta’s clubhouse, which is important to president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos.

Since the start of last season, Morton has a 3.80 ERA. His 416 strikeouts in that span are the third most in the National League.

The Braves drafted Morton in the third round in 2002, and he debuted in 2008. His illustrious career, which has taken him many places, has included two World Series rings and two All-Star nods. In 2019, he finished third in voting for the Cy Young Award.

Morton reinvented himself around five years ago. Since 2017, he is 70-30 with a 3.52 ERA over 160 starts. His 1,062 strikeouts over that stretch rank sixth in baseball.

As of Friday, Morton’s 200 strikeouts this season ranked fifth in the National League. He is one of only three Braves pitchers to tally at least 200 strikeouts in multiple seasons, joining John Smoltz (five seasons) and Phil Niekro (three seasons).