The Toronto Blue Jays have signed Brandon Morrow to a three-year, $20-million contract with a club option for the 2015 season of $10-million, the club announced during a Tuesday press conference.
Terms of the deal were first reported by Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi.
Morrow would have been eligible for free agency after the 2013 season, but instead joins ace Ricky Romero as the club’s only starting pitchers signed to multi-year contracts.
"Brandon has a tremendous ceiling, tremendous upside," said Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos. "We’re glad to have him here for potentially the next four years."
Morrow and the Blue Jays were only $300,000 apart (he asked $4.2 million, the club offered $3.9 million) on a 2012 salary last week when players and clubs exchanged arbitration figures.
It turns out that was a mere formality, as the sides were working toward a longer-term agreement and simply needed more time to hammer it out.
"I’m excited to stay," said Morrow. "To be able to sign an extension here was a big deal to me. There’s a sense of loyalty to Alex for bringing me here and showing faith in me."
SPORTSNET AUDIO: Tuesday press conference
SPORTSNET AUDIO: Farrell on Jeff Blair Show
SPORTSNET AUDIO: Morrow on Jeff Blair Show
It’s little surprise that GM Alex Anthopoulos moved to keep Morrow under wraps. Since taking over from J.P. Ricciardi at the end of the 2009 season, Anthopoulos has done the bulk of his spending on keeping his core pieces in-house, previously locking up Adam Lind, Romero, Jose Bautista and Yunel Escobar.
Anthopoulos said Tuesday he pulled Morrow aside at December’s uniform unveiling event at the Rogers Centre and told him he’d like to work out a long-term deal.
Morrow’s signing leaves reliever Casey Janssen as the club’s only arbitration-bound player.
Morrow made a career high 30 starts in his second full season as a starting pitcher, while also setting career highs in wins (11), innings pitched (179.1) and strikeouts (203).
"It eliminates all other thinking," Morrow said when asked how the contract might affect his performance next season. "Contract situations can weigh on players and now it’s all about winning."
On Monday, the Jays signed veteran infielder Omar Vizquel to a minor-league contract with invitation to spring training, where he will compete for the utility role with incumbent Mike McCoy and off-season acquisition Luis Valbuena.
- With files from Shi Davidi
Is the Brandon Morrow contract good value for the Blue Jays?