According to the Tampa Bay Rays Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations, Erik Neander, the team will be declining their options on right-handed pitcher Charlie Morton and catcher Mike Zunino.
Charlie Morton was the largest free agent signing in franchise history when the Rays gave him a three-year deal in December of 2018. Two of those seasons were guaranteed with the Rays possessing an option for the third season, that has since been renegotiated. However, despite the finagling of the option year, the Rays still decided to decline their option of the veteran starting pitcher. Originally, the option called for Morton to make $15M in 2021, but the terms of the new deal have not been released.
This might not mean the end of Charlie Morton’s days with the Rays as Neander made sure to say that they are interested in bringing him back into the fold if he wishes to continue playing; prior to the start of the season, Morton expressed that the 2020 campaign may be his last, as he was eyeballing retirement.
Over the course of his two seasons with the Rays, Morton pitched in 42 games for Tampa Bay and finishes with a 3.33 ERA / 2.92 FIP over 232 2⁄3 innings pitched. His most memorable performance with the team will have to be his outing during Game Seven of the 2020 American League Championship Series where he helped the Rays to win their second American League pennant.
After a disappointing initial season with the Rays in 2019, the Rays made the decision to sign Mike Zunino to a one-year contract last offseason with a $4.5M option for 2021, hoping for a rebound from the veteran catcher. Unfortunately, Zunino’s 2020 season was just as putrid with him finishing with a 65 wRC+ over 28 games.
The Rays have expressed interest in bringing both players back under the right circumstances.