Morales, Rox avoid arbitration with one-year deal
Acquired from Red Sox in December, lefty will have shot to make rotation
DENVER -- The Rockies and left-handed pitcher Franklin Morales, who was acquired last month from the Red Sox, agreed on a one-year contract on Wednesday to avoid arbitration.
Morales, who has pitched primarily out of the bullpen since the Red Sox purchased him from the Rockies in 2011, will be given the opportunity to win a job in the starting rotation. According to a Major League source, Morales signed for $1,712,500 million.
Morales, who turns 28 on Jan. 24, is pitching for Leones de Caracas in the Venezuelan Winter League round-robin playoff and is 1-2 with a 4.42 ERA in three playoff starts, with 15 strikeouts and six walks. He was 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA in three games, two starts, during the winter regular season, with 12 strikeouts against three walks. He is scheduled to start on Friday.
Last season with the Red Sox, he appeared in 20 games, including one start, and was 2-2 with a 4.62 ERA. Morales made three postseason appearances and gave up one run and three hits in 1 1/3 innings. The Rockies obtained him and Minor League right-hander Chris Martin from the Red Sox for infielder Jonathan Herrera on Dec. 18.
Morales made his Major League debut as a starter on the Rockies' 2007 team that made it to the World Series before being swept by the Red Sox. Morales became a reliever the following year and late in the 2009 season served as closer as the team made the playoffs. He is 13-18 with a 4.38 ERA and 11 saves in seven Major League seasons -- 195 appearances, 25 starts -- with the Rockies and Red Sox.
The Rockies have put Morales into the competition for the fifth rotation spot, where right-hander Juan Nicasio is being asked to fight off challengers such as Morales, right-hander Jordan Lyles, who was obtained in November as part of the deal that sent center fielder Dexter Fowler to the Astros, and lefty Christian Friedrich, who is trying to rebound from a back injury that kept him out of the Majors last season.
If he's not in the rotation, Morales will give the Rockies three hard-throwing left-handers in the bullpen when he joins Boone Logan, signed this offseason after four years with the Yankees, and Rex Brothers, who will close games when newly signed righty closer LaTroy Hawkins is not available or the matchup dictates the Rockies use a lefty.
The agreement with Morales leaves the Rockies with three arbitration-eligible players -- Nicasio, outfielder Drew Stubbs and right-handed relief pitcher Wilton Lopez.