According to Shi Davidi of Rogers Sportsnet, a division of the same company that owns the Toronto Blue Jays, the team is nearing a three year contract extension for Brandon Morrow that will guarantee the starting pitcher $21 million, with a $1 million buyout for a 2015 club option for $10 million after his age 30 season.
07:30 Update: The contract has been signed, as confirmed by an announcement by the team.
The deal takes care of Morrow’s second and third year of arbitration eligibility, as well as his first year of free agency at the very least. In a worst case scenario the team would have to pay the flame throwing starter $4.2 million in arbitration for 2012.
Morrow has shown flashes of brilliance in his time as a full time Major League starter, striking out a higher percentage of batters over the last two seasons than any other starter in baseball. However, that’s also been matched with difficulties performing to that same level with runners on base as well as some good old fashioned bad luck (among 86 qualified pitchers during that same time period, Morrow has the sixth worst strand rate).
In fact, many of the numbers most likely to be used in arbitration cases don’t paint Morrow as the dominant pitcher that more advanced metrics do. Adding to these concerns, is his injury history, not only as a diabetic, but also as a pitcher who has had to visit the DL in Spring Training in each of the last four seasons for either shoulder or forearm problems in his throwing arm. To me, that suggests off season conditioning problems.
While those factors, may cause some alarm, it should also be noted that even if Morrow never improves, never puts it together, never becomes the recipient of good luck, this deal will still end up being team friendly in economic terms.