Braves pick up Charlie Morton's option, decline Eddie Rosario's

The Braves exercised a $20 million option for pitcher Charlie Morton on Monday, bolstering a shaky rotation for the NL East champions, but they declined a $9 million option for outfielder Eddie Rosario.

The return of Morton, who went 14-12 with a 3.64 ERA, was expected even though he turns 40 on Sunday.

The Braves also declined the options for two right-handed relievers. Kirby Yates will receive a $1.25 million buyout after the Braves decided not to bring him back for $5.75 million. In addition, Atlanta exercised a $1 million buyout for Collin McHugh rather than a $6 million option.

Also Monday, the last day to resolve contract options, Mark Canha's $11.5 million option for 2024 was exercised by the Detroit Tigers, two days after the outfielder was acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers for minor league pitcher Blake Holub. Milwaukee could have paid a $2 million buyout and allowed Canha to become a free agent.

Detroit also exercised a $3.5 million option on catcher Carson Kelly, who signed on Aug. 19, four days after he was released by Arizona. Kelly can earn $500,000 in performance bonuses for games as a catcher: $125,000 each for 95 and each additional five through 110.

Right-hander Michael Wacha went free after the San Diego Padres declined to exercise $16.5 million options for 2024 and '25 and the pitcher turned down player options at $6.5 million for 2024 and $6 million for each of the following two years.

The Miami Marlins declined options on right-handers Johnny Cueto ($10.5 million) and Matt Barnes ($9 million). Cueto gets a $2.5 million buyout and Barnes $2.75 million.

Miami exercised a $3,625,000 option on infielder Jon Berti, who would have been owed a $25,000 buyout and eligible for salary arbitration if the option had been declined. Berti hit .258 with seven homers, 33 RBIs and 16 stolen bases.

Other players whose options were exercised were San Francisco Giants right-hander Alex Cobb ($10 million), New York Mets left-hander Brooks Raley ($6.5 million) and Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Blake Treinen ($1 million).

Tigers shortstop Javier Baez, Giants outfielder Michael Conforto and right-hander Ross Stripling, Miami first baseman Josh Bell and Chicago Cubs pitcher Drew Smyly decided not to opt out.

Baez kept salaries of $25 million in each of the next two seasons and $24 million apiece in 2026 and '27 after slumping to a .222 average, nine homers and 59 RBI in his second season with Detroit.

Conforto retained an $18 million salary for next season after hitting .232 with 15 homers and 58 RBIs, and Bell kept a $16.5 million salary after batting .247 with 22 homers and 75 RBIs for Cleveland and the Marlins, who acquired him on Aug. 1. Stripling kept a $12.5 million salary after going 0-5 with a 5.36 ERA in 11 starts and 11 relief appearances.

Mets right-hander Adam Ottavino declined a $6.75 million player option. He was 1-7 with a 3.21 ERA in 66 relief appearances.

The Braves need starting depth after learning that Kyle Wright -- a 21-game winner in 2022 -- will miss another whole season because of an injury that kept him out most of this past year.

The decision to cut ties with Rosario, who got most of the starts in left field, was a bit of a surprise after he hit 21 homers with 74 RBIs while batting .255 as part of a potent order that tied the major league record with 307 homers as team.

It could be a signal that the Braves are considering a new position for Vaughn Grissom, who had a big year offensively at Triple-A but doesn't appear to have a spot available on the infield.

Morton, in his second sting with the Braves, will return for a fourth season as part of a rotation led by Spencer Strider and Max Fried. Dealt a rash of injuries, the Braves struggled to nail down a stable rotation, using 16 pitchers as starters.

Morton missed the NL Division Series with a sprained finger, though he was expected to return if the 104-win Braves advanced. Instead, they were upset for in their opening series for the second year in a row by the Philadelphia Phillies.

The 32-year-old Rosario was a star of Atlanta's run to the 2021 World Series championship, batting .560 (14 of 35) with three homers and nine RBIs to win MVP honors in the six-game triumph over the Dodgers in the NL Championship Series.

Rosario had a walk-off hit in Game 2 and sparked the deciding win with a three-run homer off Walker Buehler.

The Braves cut ties with Yates and McHugh after reaching multiyear deals to bring back two other right-handed relievers -- Joe Jimenez and Pierce Johnson -- before they became free agents.

The 36-year-old Yates pitched a full season after missing nearly all of the three previous years with an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. He was a bit inconsistent, but still went 7-2 with five saves and a 3.28 ERA in 61 appearances.

McHugh, also 36, struggled in 2023 after pitching well out of the Atlanta bullpen the previous season. He appeared in 41 games, going 4-1 with a 4.30 ERA.

On Sunday, the Braves declined a $7 million option on left-handed reliever Brad Hand, who received a $500,000 buyout.

In other moves, Atlanta reinstated a host of pitchers from the 60-day disabled list to the 40-man roster: right-handers Wright, Michael Soroka, Nick Anderson, Yonny Chirinos and Huascar Ynoa, along with left-handers Tyler Matzek, Dylan Lee and Kolby Allard.

The Braves claimed left-hander Angel Perdomo off waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates and assigned right-hander Jackson Stephens outright to Triple-A Gwinnett.

Perdomo pitched in 30 games for the Pirates, going 3-2 with a 3.72 ERA. Most notably, he had 44 strikeouts in 29 innings.

The Braves have until Nov. 17 to decide whether to tender contracts to unsigned players on their 40-man roster. All eyes will be on Soroka, who had a stellar rookie season in 2019 but has appeared in only 10 big league games over the last four years after twice tearing his Achilles tendon.

Soroka had another injury setback late last season, raising further doubts about his future with a team that has paid him nearly $8.5 million over the last three years and may not be interested in going through arbitration again before he becomes eligible for free agency in 2025.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.