The Toronto Blue Jays took another step towards retaining their core players, extending starting pitcher Brandon Morow for three years today. The deal is worth $20 million and goes through the 2014 season. There is a club option for 2015 worth $10 million.
This deal really helps the Jays, with Morrow starting at arbitration raises in 2012 and 2013 before becoming a free agent after the 2013 season. He could have gotten probably in the neighborhood of $12 million in those two arbitration years, and probably would have gotten $10-13 million a year as a free agent, making the deal a bargain for the Jays. Despite ERAs above 4.00 in each of his two seasons in Toronto, Morrow has been a victim of bad luck, with strand rates under 70% and high BABIPs killing his ERA. Despite the high ERA, he’s been worth 7.1 fWAR over the last two seasons with an xFIP right around 3.50. He’s struck out more than a batter per inning in both seasons, and last season, increased his strikeout to walk ratio to 2.94.
Morrow’s extension will pair will with that of Ricky Romero, who Toronto has locked up through 2015 (with an option for 2016). The two pitchers are joined by star outfielder Jose Bautista, who is also signed through 2015 with an option for 2016. The only arbitration-eligible player that Toronto hasn’t agreed with yet is reliever Casey Janssen, who made $1.095 million last year. This team could make a lot of noise in the AL East this season, and for the next couple seasons as well.
Morrow was initially acquired by the Blue Jays after the 2009 season from Seattle, in exchange for reliever Brandon League. In his two seasons in Seattle, League has been worth 1.8 fWAR. He’s also a little over a year older than Morrow, making this decision look even worse for Seattle, who could have had Morrow, Michael Pineda (who was traded to the Yankees earlier this month), and Doug Fister (traded to Detroit at last season’s trade deadline) behind ace Felix Hernandez, but instead, have a host of raw pitching prospects who aren’t ready for the rotation. Well-played, Mariners…
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