By Matt Snyder
Blue Jays starting pitcher Brandon Morrow has been signed to a three-year contract extension worth $20 million, the club announced Tuesday (hat-tip MLB Trade Rumors). The deal is also said to include a $10 million option for the 2015 season -- meaning this deal buys out the last two years of arbitration and could eat up the first two years of possible free agency. The average annual value of the contract represents quite a raise for Morrow, who earned $2.3 million last season.
Morrow, 27, went 11-11 with a 4.72 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 203 strikeouts in 179 1/3 innings last season. He has great stuff, seemingly capable of flirting with a no-hitter or hitting double digits in strikeouts on any given night. On the other hand, he's been unable to harness all that talent consistently, as he's just as capable of getting knocked around the yard. Witness a four-start stretch in September: Morrow gave up eight runs on eight hits in 4 1/3 innings to the Red Sox and followed up that effort by giving up seven hits and five earned runs in 5 1/3 innings against the Red Sox again. But in the next two starts -- against the Yankees and Rays, respectively -- Morrow went 15 combined shutout innings, only giving up six hits while striking out 17.
If the Jays can find a way to coax some consistency out of Morrow, this contract would be an absolute bargain. He figures to be the Blue Jays No. 2 starter this season behind Ricky Romero, so the Jays need Morrow to step up if they intend to compete in the tough AL East.
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