While the 2014 season isn’t (officially) over yet, the Toronto Blue Jays are already looking towards next year, including considering their options with Brandon Morrow. The question is, what is the best direction to take with the talented, but injury-prone pitcher?
As recently as 2012, even contemplating letting Morrow go would have been perceived as sheer lunacy. The 30-year old was coming off a season that included a career-best 2.96 ERA.
However, even then, there were signs of what was to come. Despite posting a 10-7 record in 21 starts, Morrow missed more than two months of the season with an oblique strain. (And Jays fans know all about those these days.)
Unfortunately, the situation did get worse for the 2006 fifth overall draft pick the following season. After going 2-3 to start the 2013 campaign, Morrow missed the rest of year with an entrapped radial nerve in his right forearm.
This year was even worse, with Morrow designated to be fifth in the rotation by John Gibbons. (He had entered 2013 as the number two starter, behind R.A. Dickey.) Then, after going 1-2 in six starts, with a career-worst 5.93 ERA, the righty was sent to the DL again, this time with a torn tendon sheath in his right hand.
The former Seattle Mariner could still return this season, albeit likely just as a reliever. However, with everything that’s happened, coming out of the bullpen is the least of Morrow’s problems.
In some respects, what happen’s to the Santa Rosa, California native is out of his control. Regardless of how much Rogers is worth, the deciding factor could conceivably be the money.
If Gibbons and the Blue Jays want Morrow back in 2015, they will have to pay $10 million to pick up his option. The alternative is to let him go, which will “only” cost them $1 million.
There’s no denying Morrow’s physical talents, which include a mid- to high-90s fastball. Look no further than his 17 strikeout, one-hitter complete game against the Tampa Bay Rays, back in 2010:
Incidentally, that was Morrow’s first season with the Blue Jays, and therein lies part of the problem. After five seasons in Toronto, he appears to be regressing, although I appreciate some of that can be attributed to his ongoing injury issues.
Morrow has faced tough situations before, not least after being diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic in high school. Unfortunately, this latest battle could be one that even he will be unable to win.
At some point, unlimited potential turns to unfulfilled promise. Ultimately, I believe the Blue Jays will decide to go against picking Morrow’s option up and part company with him at the conclusion of this season.