Long before people were eyeing Daniel Norris as the next spokesman for Dos Equis beer, he was a wanted man around baseball. When the Cubs were shopping ace Jeff Samardzija last summer, Theo Epstein & Co. were reportedly targeting Norris as a centerpiece in a potential deal with Toronto. Ultimately, of course, the Blue Jays stood pat and held on to one of the brightest young pitching prospects in baseball. Through it all, Norris says he didn’t allow the trade talk to be a distraction, but he couldn’t avoid hearing about it on a daily basis.
“At first it was like, I would never see it, but I would always get text messages from buddies back home like, ’Dude, are you getting traded?’ and they’d send me screenshots of MLB Trade Rumors and I’m like, ’What the heck?’ But, at the end of the day, it’s just about throwing a baseball,” Norris told MLBTR. “Whoever it’s for, whether it’s for the Blue Jays or for the Cubs, whatever, that’s all I can control. It’s not like I can say, ’Hey, please don’t trade me, I like your organization.’ So you just have to take whatever is given to you.”
Even as speculation mounted about the Blue Jays making a play for Samardzija and the potential pieces that could be involved in a swap, no one from the organization approached the young pitcher to let him know a trade was imminent. His representatives at Excel Sports Management thought enough of the buzz to keep him apprised, but Norris wasn’t exactly waiting by the phone.
“I got a call from my agent once when I was in Double-A and he said, ’Hey, there’s a possibility you might get traded, it’s out there, I wanted to let you know,’ and I was like, ’Okay, whatever,’ so that’s about the extent of it,” the pitcher explained.
By all accounts, the 21-year-old (22 in April) is the frontrunner to land the final spot in the Blue Jays’ rotation, but he refused to pat himself on the back for what he’s displayed this spring. With some prodding, he acknowledged that he did well for himself in his Friday night outing when he allowed one run across 5 2/3 innings against the Rays, but he’s determined to improve on his command and delivery as the season draws near. Norris hopes that if he has everything clicking to start the year, he can direct the conversation away from his fascinating off-field life and back to his pitching.
“I don’t think it’ll be long before the focus is back on my playing again,” Norris said. “I just want to go out there and take care of business.”