The Tampa Bay Rays so rarely dip into the free-agent starter waters that it was a bit surprising Wednesday to see them land one of the best ones on the market in Charlie Morton, who carries some injury risk but could very well help Tampa Bay repeat its 90-win performance from 2018.
As much as the media made of the Rays' opener strategy last year, it was a bit overlooked that they did so as a response to the decimation of their planned rotation by injuries -- and also the fact that it seemed to work, getting the team more value from its existing pitchers. That's not the same as saying the Rays gave up on traditional starters; Chris Archer was used that way while he was still there, and Cy Young winner Blake Snell was a traditional starter all year.
The Rays entered this offseason with Snell as a definite starter, and Jake Faria and Tyler Glasnow as tentative starters, in addition to the guys they used or might use as openers. Brent Honeywell, who had Tommy John surgery, should return this summer, but counting on him for more than a half season is probably optimistic, and he could need time to regain his command and control. They had an acute need for a regular starter, even one who would go just twice through the order.