The Pirates have signed Charlie Morton to a three-year deal, Jeff Passan reports. It's for $21 million guaranteed. Morton gets $4 million this season and $8 million in both 2015 and 2016. There's also a $9.5 million team option for 2017 that also includes $500,000 in incentives, with a $1 million buyout. If the Pirates trade Morton, 2017 becomes a mutual option, with Morton forfeiting the buyout if he declines the option.
Morton would have made about $4 million in arbitration this year anyway, so one way to think of this is as a two-year, $17 million deal with an option for 2017. Morton would have been eligible for free agency after this season.
This wouldn't have been my top priority entering the offseason, but with prices for pitching going through the roof this offseason -- with Ricky Nolasco getting $49 million, Jason Vargas getting $32 million and the like -- this makes a lot of sense. The Pirates just bought the rights to Morton's first three free-agent years, all at reasonable prices. They're also only committing themselves to two more years. Morton can be an inconsistent, frustrating pitcher, but as long as the Pirates keep putting a good infield defense behind him, there's no reason he can't be effective through 2016 or 2017, particularly given that he's only 30. Nice move, and it's good to see the Pirates finally doing something this offseason, even if this signing is about 2015-2017, not 2014.