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Tom Lynn/Associated Press

The Philadelphia Phillies announced Thursday that they have declined to pick up the mutual option on pitcher Charlie Morton. 

Morton was set to earn a $9.5 million salary in 2017, but the Phillies instead exercised a $1 million buyout, per SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo. 

Morton, 32, made just four starts in 2016, finishing 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and 19 strikeouts in 17.1 innings pitched. He missed the majority of the season after tearing his hamstring in April. 

A major reason for the buyout was likely because it wouldn’t have been guaranteed that Morton would have made the starting rotation given the team’s bevy of young starters and prospects. Jerad Eickhoff, Aaron Nola and Vince Velasquez are locks to earn spots on the rotation, while Zach Eflin, Jake Thompson, Alec Asher and perhaps even Mark Appel will compete for spots in the rotation.

In other words, Morton would have needed to have a very strong spring to earn a spot in the rotation this season. Given that Morton has pitched 150 or more innings just three times in his career and has dipped below a 3.70 ERA just once, the Phillies weren’t willing to bet on his justifying a $9.5 million contract on the mound.

        

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