- The Braves made the first big splash of the offseason, landing veteran right-hander Charlie Morton for a one-year contract
- Morton joins a rotation that has so far been the focus of GM Alex Anthopoulos' offseason
- Move transforms value of Braves World Series futures as one of baseball's top contenders
It could be, and so far, a glacier-slow MLB offseason at this point, with Major League Baseball's financial landscape tightened given the shortened 60-game season and loss of league revenue. .
However, Tuesday marked the first major success of the offseason with a strong World Series contender bolstering both their chances and future value by adding a top-of-the-line arm to throw in a starting spin which has been a major focus. of the team at this point.
The Brave add Morton to a one-year contract
The Atlanta Braves made the MLB's first big offseason hit, adding veteran right-hander Charlie Morton on a one-year, $ 15 million contract, according to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand.
BREAKING: Charlie Morton has agreed to the terms of a one-year, $ 15 million contract with the Braves. The deal was negotiated by Andrew Lowenthal and BB Abbott of Jet Sports. This is the biggest free agent contract so far this offseason.
- Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) November 24, 2020
Term and dollar value are identical to the 2021 option, Morton's former club Tampa Bay Rays declined early in the offseason. While Tampa Bay wanted to keep Morton on a cheaper contract, the Braves ultimately paid and won his services.
Morton, 37, spent the last two seasons with the Rays and worked at a 3.05 ERA / 2.81 FIP with a fWAR 6.1, a career high in 2019. His production plunged, along with his speed, into a 2020 season that also had shoulder problems. He averaged 4.47 ERA / 3.45 FIP in 2020 while seeing his average fastball speed increase from 95 mph in 2019 to 93.8 in 2020. He posted a career high of 96 , 6 in the 2018 season with the Houston Astros.
However, Morton would bounce back widely in the playoffs, allowing just one run in 15.2 innings in his first three playoff starts before being touched up by the Dodgers in Game 3 of the World Series. The return to form in the playoffs is what drew the Braves to Morton this offseason.
“We saw him come back to where he was in 2019,” Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. "In September and in the playoffs, his business was back where it was in 2019."
The move to Atlanta reunites Morton with the team that drafted him in the third round, 95th overall in the 2020 entry draft. Morton pitched 74.2 innings for the Braves in the 2008 season before spending the next seven seasons. with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
In 13 seasons between the Braves, Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies, Astros and Rays, Morton averaged 4.08 / 3.79 FIP in 258 starts (259 appearances), dropping from 93 to 89 in the process.
The move also keeps Morton close to his home in Florida, as was his biggest wish during the offseason, which had many predicted a return to Tampa with a cheaper offer than the Rays turned down.
Rotation of reinforcements which was the main objective
Last offseason, Anthopoulos focused early and often on his paddock, adding and retaining high-end arms that would go on to form one of baseball's best bullpens a season ago.
The focus remained on pitching this time around, albeit in a starting rotation that was decimated by both injury and underperformance in 2020.
The Braves lost ace Mike Soroka to a torn Achilles at the start of the season, while Cole Hamels - signed a one-year contract last winter - pitched all three innings due to problems with his arms and shoulder fatigue later.
Mike Foltynewicz saw a dramatic decrease in speed which led to disastrous results and a subsequent designation for an assignment, leaving the team to scramble to fill starts even in the shortened season.
The Braves began looking to bolster that rotation early in the offseason, signing southpaw Drew Smyly to a one-year, $ 11 million contract for the first time a week before adding Morton on Tuesday.
“We had an extremely short list of [starting pitchers] we would consider, basically two to three. And obviously we had two, ”Anthopoulos said. "These are the two guys that were at the top of our list, Charlie and Drew."
Smyly struggled between the Texas Rangers and the Phillies in 2019, but rebounded with an ERA of 3.42 / 2.01 FIP with a monster of 14.35 K / 9 in five starts, seven appearances and 26.1 innings with the San Francisco Giants in 2020.
With the pair of rotation additions, the Braves plan to roll out a rotation with Soroka, Max Fried, Morton, Ian Anderson and Smyly.
Charlie Morton has recorded 160 strikeouts on curve balls since the start of 2019, most in the MLB during that span
Want to see some Morton's curved art? Cool me too
Here are some of her most twisty K curves over the past 2 years pic.twitter.com/LkhNKUPKSW
- Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) November 24, 2020
Fried had Cy Young-like results as the team's ace in 2020, while Anderson had a strong rookie season that saw him record an ERA of 1.95 / 2.54 FIP and an 11.41 K / 9 over six regular season starts before becoming a big ERA of 0.96. over four starts and 18.2 innings as the Braves walked through Game 7 of the NLCS, ultimately losing to eventual world champions Dodgers.
Move increases the value of World Series odds
Before putting pen to paper with Morton on Tuesday, the Braves had odds of +1200 to win the 2021 World Series, according to BetOnline. After Tuesday's announcement, the The brave rose to +900, edging the San Diego Padres (+1000) and Rays (+1200) for a top-three spot in the process
The Braves have - so far - lost hitter Marcell Ozuna to the free agent market after crushing 18 home runs at the top of the NL in 2020. Nonetheless, the Braves have focused on their starting rotation as the team still ran all baseball with it. 355 wOBA last season.
The team have also lost relievers Shane Green and Mark Melancon to free agency at this point, but the market for relief has yet to take shape as the December 2 no-bid deadline. will certainly add more quality and quantity to what is already a deep relief harvest on the open market.
While the Braves have seen their 2021 World Series odds cut, they certainly remain one of the top contenders, who has more spin depth than we saw last year.
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Know the main point of the game. The goal of American is to score points by carrying the ball from a starting point on a 120-yard long and 53. 3-yard wide field into a specially marked 10-yard-deep area at either end of the field called an end zone. Each team uses the end zone in front of them to score while trying to prevent the opposing team from reaching the end zone behind them.  Each end zone has a Y-shaped structure called the field goal which is positioned on the end line. The field goals are used to score points with special kicks
The end zone that a team is defending is usually referred to as “their” end zone. Thus, a team with 70 yards ( 64. 0 m ) to go before it can score a touchdown is 30 yards ( 27. 4 m ) from its end zone. Teams trade possession of the ball according to strict rules. Whichever team is in possession of the ball is known as the “offense;” the other team is called the “defense. ”
Learn the time divisions. Football is divided into four quarters of 15 minutes each, with a break between the deuxième and third periods called “halftime” that is normally 12 minutes long.  While the clock is réactive, the game is divided into even shorter segments called “plays ' or ' downs. '
A play begins when the ball is moved from the ground into the hands of the players, and ends when either the ball hits the ground, or the person holding the ball is tackled and his knee or elbow nuances the ground. When a play is over, an official called a referee, places the ball on the yard marker which corresponds to his or her judgment of the place where the forward progress of the player with the ball was stopped. Each team has 4 downs and within those downs, they have to make ten yards from the line of scrimmage ( the starting point ). If the team fails to do so within the 4 downs, the offensive team has to hand over the ball to the opposing team. If the offense succeeds in taking the ball 10 yards in the 4 downs they get another 4 downs to move the ball 10 yards. The teams have 30 seconds to get into formation and begin the next play.
Play time can stop for a few different reasons : If a player runs out of bounds, a penalty is called, a flag is thrown, or a pass is thrown but not caught by anybody ( an incomplete pass ), the clock will stop while referees sort everything out.
Penalties are indicated by referees, who throw yellow flags onto the field when they see a violation. This lets everyone on the field know that a penalty has been called. Penalties normally result in the offending team losing between 5 - 15 yards of field position.  There are many penalties, but some of the most common are “offside” ( someone was on the wrong side of the line of scrimmage when the ball was snapped ), “holding” ( a player grabbed another player with his hands, and either player doesn’t have the ball, instead of blocking him properly ), ' false start ' ( When a player moves before the ball is snapped ), ' Unsportsmanlike conduct ' ( When a player does something that doesn’t show good sportsmanship, and “clipping” ( someone contacted an opposing player other than the ball carrier from behind and below the waist ).
The opening kickoff - At the very beginning of the game, the head referee flips a coin and the home team captain calls out which side of the coin will be face up. If correct, that captain may choose to kick off or to receive the opening kickoff or allow the visiting team captain to make that choice. Once the kicking and receiving teams are decided, the team captain who lost the coin toss gets to decide which goal his or her team will defend during the first half. This principal play is called the kickoff, and typically involves a long kick down field from one team to the other, with the team that kicked the ball rushing towards the team receiving the ball in order to prevent them from running the ball a long ways back towards the kicking team’s end zone. After halftime, there is a second kickoff by whichever team did not perform the opening kickoff. Throughout the second half, the end zones each team defends is the one opposite the end zone that team defended in the first half
Downs - The word “down” is synonymous with the word “chance” or ' plays ' in American football. The offense is allowed four downs to move the ball at least 10 yards ( 9. 1 m ) towards the end zone. Each play ends in a new down. If the goal of 10 yards ( 9. 1 m ) from the first down is achieved before the fourth down is over, the count resets to the first down, commonly noted as “1st and 10” to indicate that the standard 10 yards ( 9. 1 m ) are once again required to reset to the first down.  Otherwise, the downs count from one to four. If four downs pass without resetting to the first down, control of the ball passes to the other team
This means that a team that moves the ball 10 or more yards on each play will never be on the second down. Every time the ball is moved 10 yards ( neuf. 1 m ) or more in the proper direction, the next play is a first down with 10 yards ( 9. 1 m ) to go.
The distance required to reset to the first down is cumulative, so course 4 yards ( 3. 7 m ) on the first down, 3 yards ( 2. sept m ) on the second, and 3 yards ( 2. sept m ) on the third is enough for the next play to be a first down again.
If a play ends with the ball behind the line of scrimmage, the difference in yards is added to the total number of yards required for a first down. For example, if the quarterback is tackled sept yards ( 6. 4 m ) behind the line with the ball in his hands, the next play will be noted as “2nd and 17, ” meaning that 17 yards ( 15. 5 m ) must be covered in the next three plays to reset to a first down.
Instead of playing the fourth down, the offense can choose to punt the ball, which is a long kick that transfers control of the ball to the other team, but is likely to force them to start farther up the field than they would otherwise have been.