HOUSTON – The hero of Game 7 of the 2017 World Series will be pitching for a new American League team next season.
Free agent pitcher Charlie Morton is signing with the Tampa Bay Rays, according to multiple media reports. Morton and the team agreed to a two-year, $30 million deal Wednesday, according to reports.
Morton, 35, will live forever in Astros lore thanks to his dominant performance in the clinching game of Houston's one and only World Series title just over a year ago.
Morton signed with the Astros on Nov. 16, 2016. He signed a two-year, $14 million deal.
Morton posted a 15-3 record in 30 starts for Houston last year in 167 innings. He had a 3.13 ERA and 1.16 WHIP. He walked 64 batters and hit 16. He made the All-Star team for the first time in his career. In his one playoff start last year, Morton gave up three runs in 2 1/3 innings in a Game 4 loss to the Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series.
Morton's exit means the Astros are now facing a few glaring holes in their rotation.
Dallas Keuchel is a free agent and Lance McCullers Jr. is out for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery last month.
Houston has some internal candidates to take the rotation spots -- including Collin McHugh, Josh James and Forrest Whitley.
Astros Manager A.J. Hinch was asked about his rotation on Tuesday at Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings in Las Vegas.
"I get asked a lot about the rotation, because we lost McCullers to injury and Morton and Keuchel to free agency," Hinch said at baseball’s winter meetings on Tuesday. "Time will tell how those gaps are filled. We do have some internal guys, including McHugh and (Brad) Peacock, who have done it before and Josh James and (Framber) Valdez came up and did well. You talk about the prospects that were in Double-A, Corbin Martin, Forrest Whitley, Cionel Perez made his Major League debut last year. Those are easy names to rattle off.
"I expect Collin McHugh, he's going to come in as a starter and I can easily see him being in the rotation.”