Tampa Bay Rays decline 2021 choices on Charlie Morton, Mike Zunino

Tampa Bay Rays decline 2021 options on Charlie Morton, Mike Zunino

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida – The Tampa Bay Rays are turning down options for pitcher Charlie Morton and catcher Mike Zunino in 2021, but the AL champions say they continue to hope to re-sign them.

Morton, who turns 37 next month, should make $ 15 million. Zunino's option was $ 4.5 million.

Both played key roles in the Rays that made it to the World Series, where Tampa Bay lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games.

General Manager Erik Neander had until Sunday to decide whether the options should be exercised. He spoke to both players on Thursday evening.

"The door remains open for both of them. We will continue talking," said Neander on Friday. "Charlie has been very open about the uncertainty in his future and where he is." In all honesty, I found it best to let him catch his breath, let him process it, make some decisions with his family and have those conversations to give us a little more time, ”added the GM. "I would do nothing better than to have Charlie as part of our club again next year."

Neander said he also had a good conversation with Zunino, who started 18 out of 20 postseason games, including the last 10.

"The intangibles of him … and the work he did behind the plate was also a big reason for our success," said Neander. Morton joined the Rays in 2019 on a two-year contract for $ 30 million and helped them make money on playoff berths for the past two seasons. The right-hander was 3-1 with 2.70 ERA that postseason, with the loss coming in Game 3 of the World Series. He was 2-2 with 4.74 ERA during the season and earned a prorated salary of $ 5,555,556 of the originally planned $ 15 million.

Zunino, 29, was won in a Seattle deal in November 2018. In 19 postseason games that year he faced .170 with four homers and eight RBIs.

Zunino battled .147 with four homers and 10 RBIs during the season, earning $ 1,666,667 pro-rated wages on a $ 4.5 million salary.