Cincinnati Reds free agency preview: Starting pitcher Charlie Morton

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 30: Starting pitcher Charlie Morton #50 of the Houston Astros throws to a Baltimore Orioles batter in the first inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 30, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 30: Starting pitcher Charlie Morton #50 of the Houston Astros throws to a Baltimore Orioles batter in the first inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 30, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /
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The Cincinnati Reds are in serious need of starting pitching this offseason. Blog Red Machine is going to check out a few potential free agents who could help. The Reds tend to take chances on older veterans in the latter half of their careers, and it’s usually not successful. With that, there are always exceptions.

Scott Feldman, Homer Bailey, Bronson Arroyo. These three are just the most recent pitchers who are labeled as “past their prime” and have made appearances in the Cincinnati Reds rotation. Feldman was even the Opening Day starter in 2017 with Bailey getting the nod last season.

With such a young pitching staff the Reds have, bringing in an older presence would be crucial for development in the rotation. Facing high expectations and growing frustration with the “rebuild”, the Reds should turn to an older veteran who quietly had a great season on the World Champion Houston Astros.

A 35-year-old right-hander currently on the Astros, Charlie Morton is an arm the Reds should look to acquire who won’t break the bank. While his overall record of 75-81 and a 4.24 ERA over his career is nothing special, this season he has been absolutely dominant in a star-studded Astros rotation. This regular season Morton had 15 wins and only three losses with a 3.13 ERA. In his 167 innings pitched, Morton totaled 201 with a 1.16 WHIP en route to an All-Star Selection.

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Besides the dominant season Morton is having, he is also valuable in another aspect. He has postseason pitching experience. If the Cincinnati Reds get to the playoffs as they are hoping to, they will need a starter who knows the pressure of October. With only Bailey and Matt Harvey having postseason innings pitched on the roster, Morton would contribute as either an ace or a strong No. 2 in the rotation.

What’s it going to cost?

With an average speed of 96 mph on his preferred four-seam fastball, his age isn’t slowing him down soon. In a hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark, pitchers need to get people out and avoid falling behind in early innings. Mortons’ best pitch is a curveball with a lot of movement to complement his fastball and has pitched extremely well against left-handed hitters.

In his final 7 games, he was 3-0 with a 4.25 ERA and gave up a whopping 14 earned runs in 26 innings pitched. Aside from being cooled off at the finish, Morton will most likely be on the mound for the Astros in a Game 4, should the American League Division Series with the Cleveland Indians go that far.

To get a player with gas still in the tank is crucial for a club like the Reds who need more than one pitcher to fix the woeful rotation. The one question always boils down to affordability. With an average salary of $8.8 million over his current 2-year $14 million deal, Morton will look for something in that range if not more since he was an All-Star.

While it’s possible that he would take a pay cut, the Reds would need to be all in and spend the money. If other big names become unavailable or unattainable financially, Morton would command a much cheaper salary and be attainable.

Depending on how valuable Morton is in the postseason or how far the Astros advance, Houston will most likely look to re-sign him and could affect what he deserves in free agency. With the Reds not being favorites to land most of the big names available, Morton can be the veteran the Reds need in their locker room and still make an impact.

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Only time will tell, but if the Reds are serious about being spenders, Morton is a guy that could be a tremendous addition in a youthful rotation. Free agency kicks off once the World Series is over.