Sports Rays decline options on RHP Charlie Morton, C Mike Zunino
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rays are declining 2021 options on pitcher Charlie Morton and catcher Mike Zunino but the AL champions say they remain hopeful of re-signing them.
Morton, who turns 37 next month, was due to earn $15 million. Zunino’s option was for $4.5 million.
Both played keys roles in the Rays reaching the World Series, where Tampa Bay lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games.
General manager Erik Neander had until Sunday to decide whether to exercise the options. He spoke with both players on Thursday night.
“With both of them, the door is staying open. We’re going to continue talking,” Neander said Friday.
Arozarena, Rays top Astros 4-2 in Game 7, reach World Series
SAN DIEGO — By now, every baseball fan has heard of remarkable rookie Randy Arozarena. They're fast becoming familiar with his World Series-bound Tampa Bay teammates, too. “You sit here and look at this group of guys, and I always say we don’t have a lot of household names, but at the same time, people are making a name for themselves right now,” outfielder Kevin Kiermaier said. They kept doing that in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series on Saturday night. Arozarena homered again, 36-year-old Charlie Morton was brilliant against his former team and the Rays silenced the Houston Astros 4-2 to reach the World Series for just the second time.
“Charlie’s been very open about the uncertainty in his future and where he’s at. Frankly, I felt it was best to let him catch his breath, let him process, let him make some decisions with his family and have those conversations to give us a little more time,” the GM added. “I would love nothing more than to have Charlie back as part of our club next year.”
Neander said he also had a good conversation with Zunino, who started 18 of 20 post-season games, including the last 10.
“The intangible benefits of him ... and the work he did behind the plate were a huge reason for our success as well,” Neander said.
Morton joined the Rays in 2019 on $30 million, two-year contract and helped them earn playoff berths each of the past two seasons. The right-hander was 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA this post-season, with the loss coming in Game 3 of the World Series. He was 2-2 with a 4.74 ERA during the season and earned a $5,555,556 prorated salary from an originally scheduled $15 million.
The 29-year-old Zunino was obtained in a trade from Seattle in November 2018. He batted .170 with four homers and eight RBIs in 19 post-season games this year.
Zunino batted .147 with four homers and 10 RBIs during the season and earned $1,666,667 in prorated pay from a salary that had been $4.5 million.
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The Associated Press
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