The Philadelphia Phillies have acquired veteran starting pitcher Charlie Morton in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
In an accompanying move, the club has released pitcher A.J. Achter in order to make room for Morton on the official 40-man roster. Achter had been claimed off waivers from the Minnesota Twins just three weeks ago.
Morton is a 32-year old veteran of parts of eight big league seasons, seven of those with the Pirates. He has a career record of 45-70 with a 4.54 ERA, a 1.443 WHIP, and a 4.12 FIP mark. Morton has allowed 935 hits in 875.2 innings, with a 611/329 K:BB ratio.
In exchange, the Phillies sent minor league pitcher David Whitehead to the Bucs. Whitehead is a 23-year old righthander whom the Phils selected with their 34th round pick in the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft. He was not considered one of the organizations top prospects.
Morton was born in Flemington, New Jersey, about 50 miles or so north of Philly. He was taken originally by the Atlanta Braves in the 3rd round of the 2002 MLB Amateur Draft out of Barlow High School in Redding, Connecticut.
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The righty made his big league debut with Atlanta in the 2008 season, but was then traded by the Braves to the Pirates in June of 2009 along with Jeff Locke and Gorkys Hernandez in exchange for outfielder Nate McLouth.
Morton has a reasonable $8 million contract for the 2016 season, along with a club option at $9.5 million for the 2017 season, so as long as he stays healthy and performs reasonably, there is every chance that he will remain a part of the Phillies rotation over these next two seasons as the club continues to develop arms in the minor leagues.
As far as the starting rotation is concerned, this should wrap up GM Matt Klentak’s off-season work. Morton joins fellow newcomers Jeremy Hellickson, Vincent Velasquez, and Brett Oberholtzer and returnees Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Adam Morgan as the leading contenders for that rotation when the club reports to spring training in just over two months.