The Tampa Bay Rays’ general manager Erik Neander confirmed on Friday that the organization declined to exercise the options for the 2021 MLB season on All-Star pitcher Charlie Morton and veteran catcher Mike Zunino’s contracts.
Morton, who is one year removed from an All-MLB Second Team selection, was set to make $15 million according to the option. Zunino, on the other hand, missed out on $4.5 million.
Despite the Rays’ decision to pass on the duo’s options, Neander said that the team remains open to keeping both Morton and Zunino.
“With both of them, the door is staying open. We’re going to continue talking,” said Neander.
The finances of holding out on Morton and Zunino under their current contracts probably didn’t make sense for Tampa, which led to this outcome. However, considering that both players played a significant role in the team’s run to World Series appearance this season, it makes sense for the organization to try and bring them back under more affordable deals.
Charlie Morton played nine games in the 2020 regular season, going 2-2 with 4.74 ERA and 42 strikeouts. He went on to show up in the postseason, going on a run that saw him obtain a 3-1 record with 2.70 ERA and 22 strikeouts.
Morton, who has two All-Star nods and World Series ring from 2017 with Houston Astros, joined Tampa as a free agent in 2019.
Mike Zunino, on the other hand, landed with the Rays in a trade with Seattle Mariners in 2018. He also had a great showing in this year’s playoffs, starting 18 out of 20 games and delivering .170 to go with four postseason home runs and eight RBIs.