Bud Norris Rumors

West Notes: Padres, Morrow, Norris, Doolittle, Furbush, Freese

ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick provides an interesting look at mid-year starting pitcher rental trades, examining the risks and rewards inherent in such a decision. He reaches back into recent history to see how deals for high-end arms worked out for the teams that made them, and includes a variety of interesting quotes from executives involved in this year’s deals. It’s well worth a full read.

Here are some notes from the game’s western divisions:

  • The Padres passed on a chance to deal significant pitchers before and after the July 31 deadline, and now seem unlikely to make any further significant deals, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune tweets. Many of San Diego’s potential trade chips have been claimed on waivers and subsequently withdrawn when a deal could not be arrived at. While starter James Shields has reportedly cleared, Ian Kennedy and Joaquin Benoit are two notable players who are said to be off limits at this point.
  • While his season ended with another surgery, righty Brandon Morrow could still be brought back by the Padres next year, assistant GM Josh Stein tells MLB.com’s Corey Brock“I think it’s early, but we acquired [Morrow] knowing that there was a risk of an injury and the contract was structured to take that into account,” explained Stein. “I certainly wouldn’t say that there’s not an opportunity to explore something similar going forward.” Morrow said that he “hope[s] to come back, for sure,” though he acknowledged that he is “a ways away from a decision.”
  • Meanwhile, just-signed Padres righty Bud Norris says he is enjoying working from the pen but still hopes to return to the rotation, Lin reports. Norris, 30, has had a nice four-inning scoreless streak to start his time with the Friars, and will certainly draw some interest on the free agent market this winter given his relative youth and track record of delivering solid innings.
  • With his velocity solid and results excellent, rehabbing Athletics closer Sean Doolittle could make it back to the bigs in the coming days, MLB.com’s Jane Lee writes. Doolittle, 28, has made just one appearance in the majors this year for the disappointing A’s, but it’s certainly a good sign for his long-term prospects that he’s responded so well to ongoing rotator cuff issues.
  • Mariners southpaw Charlie Furbush, meanwhile, has a partially torn rotator cuff of his own to deal with, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports (Twitter links). Fortunately, Furbush says the injury appears to be relatively minor and may not require surgery. The 29-year-old has put up a 2.08 ERA with 7.1 K/9 against 2.1 BB/9 in 21 2/3 frames on the year. He played the year on a $1.3MM salary and can be controlled for two more seasons via arbitration.
  • The Angels can expect a return in relatively short order from third baseman David Freese, MLB.com’s David Adler reports. Freese has been out since July 22, and the Halos have struggled to find a replacement in his absence. The 32-year-old has hit at his usual league-average pace this year (.240/.309/.397) while providing steady defense. He’ll have a chance to bolster his stock before hitting the free agent market after the season.

Padres Sign Bud Norris; Designate Dale Thayer, Taylor Lindsey

The Padres have signed righty Bud Norris, according to a team announcement. San Diego also selected the contract of righty Colin Rea and designated reliever Dale Thayer and infielder Taylor Lindsey for assignment to create roster space, according to Scott Miller of Bleacher Nation (via Twitter) and MLB.com’s Corey Brock (Twitter link).

Norris, 30, was recently designated and released by the Orioles. He owns a 7.05 ERA over 66 1/3 innings on the year, with 6.8 K/9 against 3.4 BB/9. Baltimore will pay the balance of Norris’s $8.8MM salary on the year, less a pro-rated portion of the league minimum for whatever time he spends on the Padres’ active roster.

Of course, the Friars will hope for more from Norris, who threw 342 frames over the past two seasons with much better results. Over that span, he permitted 3.92 earned runs per nine while averaging 7.5 K/9 versus 3.1 BB/9. He’ll look to regain some value before hitting free agency again after the season, but he’ll have to do so from the bullpen. Padres GM A.J. Preller confirmed that will be Norris’s role, as Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune tweets, explaining: “We’re intrigued in a shorter role, to see how his stuff plays up for the rest of the year.”

San Diego will also see what it has in the 25-year-old Rea, who has steadily climbed the system after originally being selected in the 12th round. This year, he carries a 1.95 ERA across 101 2/3 innings in the upper minors, though he has not performed as well in his time at the Triple-A level (26 2/3 innings over six starts with 6.8 K/9 vs. 4.0 BB/9).

Thayer, 34, entered the season coming off of three straight strong campaigns in San Diego. Last year was his best: 65 1/3 innings with a 2.34 ERA and 8.5 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9. While Thayer outperformed the expectations of ERA estimators over that span, he seemed at worst to be a steady middle reliever.

But this season has been different. Over 37 2/3 innings, Thayer has posted a 4.06 ERA that actually seems somewhat lucky in light of his peripherals. He has seen his strikeout rate drop to less than six per nine while allowing over three-and-a-half batters to reach for every nine innings pitched.

As for Lindsey, he came to San Diego as a key part of last year’s Huston Street deal. The 23-year-old former first-round pick has scuffled in the upper minors since joining the Padres organization. Splitting his time between Double-A and Triple-A this year, Lindsey owns a .197/.294/.298 slash with four home runs and four steals over 272 plate appearances.


Orioles Release Bud Norris

AUGUST 8: The Orioles have announced that they’ve released Norris. They’ll therefore be on the hook for most or all of the remainder of his $8.8MM 2015 salary. He is now free to sign elsewhere.

JULY 31: The Orioles announced that they have designated right-hander Bud Norris for assignment in order to clear space on the 40-man and 25-man rosters for newly acquired outfielder Gerardo Parra.

Norris came to the Orioles two years ago to the date in a deadline deal that sent Josh Hader and L.J. Hoes to Houston. After delivering a season and a half of solid results for Baltimore, the 30-year-old has taken an alarming step backwards in 2015. Norris has a 7.05 ERA on the season to go along with diminished strikeout (6.8 K/9) and walk (3.4 BB/9) rates. Norris has always been a bit homer prone, but the 14 homers he’s served up in just 66 1/3 innings this season are particularly troublesome.

Norris is slated to hit the open market this winter as a six-year free agent, so the timing of his struggles was unfortunate. He’s earning $8.8MM this year, making him a lock to clear waivers. He’ll have the option to reject an outright assignment without forfeiting the remainder of his salary as a player with five-plus years of service time, and the Orioles could conceivably also ask for his consent to option him to Triple-A (another right that is afforded to five-plus players).



Stark’s Latest: Giants, Hamels, Price, Orioles, Gallardo, Alvarez

The latest deadline rumblings from Jayson Stark of ESPN.com

  • The Giants are still searching for starting pitching, but they’re only looking at top-of-the-rotation arms to pair with Madison Bumgarner in a playoff rotation, Stark hears. San Francisco has checked in on both David Price and Cole Hamels, but they’re not considered a favorite to land Hamels from the Phillies, and there’s still no definitive sense that Price has been made available by the Tigers. Yesterday, Stark reported that the Dodgers and Rangers were emerging as the favorites in the Hamels market.
  • The Orioles are speaking with other clubs to get a feel for what kind of return they could get if they market Matt Wieters, Chris Davis, Wei-Yin Chen, Tommy Hunter and Bud Norris, Stark hears. However, rival clubs feel the O’s will only sell if they slide to six or more games back in the Wild Card race — and they’re 3.5 games out with four to play before the deadline at this time. If they make up a bit of ground, they could add a bat, but Stark says it’d likely be a bench piece as opposed to a bigger name. Baltimore GM Dan Duquette said last week he would be a buyer regardless of the team’s play, though others have suggested that the Orioles could still end up selling if they struggle enough.
  • Adding help that can be controlled beyond 2015 is the priority for the Rangers, which is why they’re targeting Hamels, Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner while also listening to offers on Yovani Gallardo. However, according to Stark, those moves aren’t linked, and Texas could acquire a rotation piece for 2016 but also hang onto Gallardo. Personally, I think Gallardo’s pitched well enough to warrant a qualifying offer. A draft pick and improved odds of making a late run (especially if they do add another rotation arm) present enough value that the Rangers shouldn’t feel obligated to simply take the best offer for Gallardo if the proposed packages aren’t all that impressive.
  • The Pirates are now likely to hang onto Pedro Alvarez after shopping him without success for several weeks. They’ve asked the Brewers, White Sox and Rays about Adam Lind, Adam LaRoche and James Loney, respectively, but with Alvarez in the fold, they’re not likely to make a move at first. Stark adds that multiple sources downplayed the recent reports connecting Pittsburgh to the Red SoxMike Napoli.

Orioles Trying To Trade Bud Norris

The Orioles are currently attempting to move right-hander Bud Norris, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).

Norris, a free agent at season’s end, has struggled quite a bit this year, working to a 6.82 ERA entering tonight’s contest. His sub-par work in the rotation caused him to lose his starting spot, and the move to the bullpen hasn’t yielded better results (four runs in six relief innings, though he did work a scoreless inning with one strikeout in tonight’s game).

The good news for Norris is that he’s still averaging 93.4 mph on his fastball, and his 41.8 percent ground-ball rate is above his career mark. That’s not much of a silver lining when considering that his 6.7 K/9 is a career-low, his control has taken a step back, and he’s allowing homers at a higher rate than ever before. His 2015 struggles aside, though, Norris has a solid track record. From 2011-14, he averaged 174 innings per season with a 4.06 ERA, 8.1 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 between Houston and Baltimore.

Moving Norris figures to be a difficult feat for Orioles general manager Dan Duquette; in addition to his struggles, Norris is still owed approximately $3.6MM of his $8.8MM salary. Duquette said earlier today that his team was a deadline buyer regardless of its record over the next week and a half, with his primary focus being to add an outfield bat and pitching depth.


AL East Notes: Buchholz, Donaldson, Warren, Norris

Though Clay Buchholz figures to draw plenty of interest on this year’s trade market, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald opines that the Red Sox should be steadfast in their refusal to trade him. Lauber notes that Buchholz, earning $12MM in 2015, is slated to earn $13MM and $13.5MM via club options over the next two seasons — bargain rates for a pitcher with his talent, even if it comes with inconsistency and injury risk. Meanwhile, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal takes a different approach, opining that the Red Sox owe it to themselves to at least entertain offers for Buchholz. MacPherson looks back to last year’s return for 1.5 years of Jeff Samardzija and notes that 2.5 years of Buchholz could bring a similarly strong return. Though the team will need pitching in 2015, MacPherson writes that Buchholz’s value is unlikely to ever be higher, and a team willing to pay for the type of pitching he’s been doing over his past 10 starts (2.33 ERA) may very well make too good of an offer to refuse. MacPherson wonders if old friends Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, now with the Cubs, would be interested in parting with some premium young talent to acquire Buchholz.

A few more notes from the AL East…

  • Prior to the Red Sox‘ signing of Pablo Sandoval last year, the team inquired with the Athletics about Josh Donaldson but were told he was not available, reports Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald. That would seem to line up, to some extent, with comments from A’s officials early last winter indicating that little consideration would be given to moving Donaldson. (“That would be stupid,” one official told the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser last October.) Donaldson, of course, wound up with the division-rival Blue Jays and is enjoying a monster season.
  • With Ivan Nova now healthy and back in the Yankees‘ rotation, Adam Warren will shift into the team’s bullpen, the right-hander tells Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. As Feinsand notes, Warren was the likeliest candidate to do so, given his recent success in the bullpen and the fact that he’s already exceeded last year’s innings total while working as a starter.
  • Bud Norris has struggled a good deal for the Orioles this season, but there’s no current talk of removing him from Baltimore’s rotation, writes Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. Some have speculated that Norris is pressing in light of his upcoming free agency, and as Connolly writes, Norris indirectly touched on that topic following another rough start Monday. “I don’t know where my future’s gonna take me,” he said. “All know is I can handle what’s in front of me right now and trying to work through this is the No. 1 priority and getting back out there and helping my team win games.” Norris said he’s not worried about the possibility of losing a starting spot to Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright or Tyler Wilson, but Connolly wonders how long the club will stick with the struggling veteran.
  • Manager Buck Showalter told reporters, including MLB.com’s Britt Ghiroli, that the Orioles are trying to get Norris on a roll. “That’s what we’re trying to do,” said Showalter. “He has some periods where he’s pitched well, but not as consistent as he did for a long period of time last year, and will again. I try to keep in mind we haven’t even played half the season yet and Bud will do some good things for us.”

Rosenthal’s Latest: Reds, A’s, Orioles, Marlins

The Reds are doomed by injuries and an 11.5 game deficit, says FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal in his latest video. However, owner Bob Castellini is not yet ready to concede. The baseball operations staff understands that the club needs to convert veterans and soon-to-be free agents into future talent – they just have to convince their boss.

  • The A’s have performed well by run differential as well as the BaseRuns metric used by FanGraphs. However, they are 13 games below .500 and 10 games back in the AL West. The bullpen is a serious issue. Other clubs are looking to snipe players like Ben Zobrist and Tyler Clippard. Expect GM Billy Beane to jump on a properly enticing offer.
  • The Orioles have nine impending free agents. They should act as both buyers and sellers at the trade deadline. The club needs a power hitting corner outfield. They could trade a starter like Bud Norris.
  • The Marlins may also look to deal a starter. Jarred Cosart will return from the disabled list soon. Jose Urena or Tom Koehler are candidates to be optioned. However, there will be a surplus once Jose Fernandez returns from Tommy John surgery. At that point, the club could look to trade Dan Haren or Mat Latos. The Marlins are currently nine games below .500 but just six back in a weak NL East.
  • If Cincinnati shops Aroldis Chapman, count the Marlins among the potential suitors. The club is always a fit for Cuban talent. Personally, I’m not sure if Chapman is the best use of Miami’s resources. Reliever A.J. Ramos has ably replaced Steve Cishek as the closer, but he has bouts of wildness in his track record. However, Carter Capps is standing by should Ramos falter.

Orioles Notes: Duquette, Garcia, Norris

Here are a few notes from the Orioles’ FanFest convention on Saturday:

  • Executive Dan Duquette says he’s fully committed to helping the O’s win, MLB.com’s Britt Ghiroli writes. Duquette had been connected to the Blue Jays’ CEO job (and he admits there was “substance” to those rumors, as Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com tweets). It now appears, however, that Paul Beeston will continue in that role with the Jays, since they’ve extended him through 2015.
  • Duquette reiterated that he’s still looking for relief help, although the O’s are open to having Rule 5 pick Jason Garcia help in the ‘pen, Ghiroli tweets. The 22-year-old Garcia posted a 3.70 ERA with 9.5 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 at two levels in the Red Sox farm system in 2014, but has not yet pitched above Class A.
  • The O’s are also on the lookout for utility infield depth at the minor league level, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com writes (Twitter links).
  • Starter Bud Norris would like to continue as an Oriole beyond this season, but says he has not heard anything about extension talks, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun tweets. Norris, who posted a 3.65 ERA, 7.6 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 165 1/3 innings in 2014, will make $8.8MM in 2015 before becoming eligible for free agency next winter.

Orioles Avoid Arbitration With Bud Norris

Th Orioles have avoided arbitration with right-hander Bud Norris by agreeing to a one-year deal that is worth $8.8MM, reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter links). Norris, who is represented by Joel Wolfe of the Wasserman Media Group, settled slightly below the $8.875MM midpoint between his asking price of $10.25MM and the team’s counter of $7.5MM, as can be seen in MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker. His final figure is just $100K off from the projection of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz, who pegged Norris at $8.7MM.

Norris’ contract, according to Connolly, also calls for him to receive a $25K bonus for reaching 180 innings pitched and another $50K for reaching 200 innings. He can also receive a $50K bonus for making the All-Star team and a $50K bonus for winning a Gold Glove award. The innings incentives could be problematic for Norris to reach, as he’s topped 180 frames just once in his career (186 in 2011) and has never reached the 200 milestone.

This marks the final trip through the arbitration process for the 29-year-old Norris, who will be eligible for free agency next winter as he heads into his age-31 season (Norris turns 30 in March). The 2014 campaign marked Norris’ first full season with Baltimore and it proved to be the best of his career in terms of ERA, as he worked to a 3.65 mark with 7.6 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and 42.2 percent ground-ball rate in 165 1/3 innings. The Orioles initially acquired Norris and an international bonus slot from the Astros at the 2013 trade deadline in exchange for left-hander Josh Hader, outfielder L.J. Hoes and a Competitive Balance (Round A) draft pick.


Arbitration Roundup: 54 Players Exchange Figures

With today’s flurry of activities in the books, 144 players have agreed to deals to avoid arbitration for a total spend of $433MM. But that leaves 54 players who have exchanged figures and have ground left to cover before their 2015 salaries are settled. That number is up from last year’s tally of 39, and may point to the possibility that we will see more hearings than the three in 2014 (which was itself up from zero the year before).

MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker is a great resource for seeing where things stand. It is fully sortable and even allows you to link to the results of a search. (The MLBTR/Matt Swartz arbitration projections are also quite handy, of course.) Using the tracker, I compiled some broad notes on where things stand in the arbitration process this year.

Remember, deals avoiding arbitration can still be reached even after the exchange of numbers. Hearings will be scheduled between February 1st and 21st, so there is plenty of time for the sides to come together before making their cases.

That being said, some teams are known for their “file and trial” approach to arb-eligible players, meaning that they refuse to negotiate after the exchange deadline and go to a hearing if agreement has not been reached. Among those clubs (the Brewers, Rays, Marlins, Blue Jays, Braves, Reds, and White Sox, per the most recent reporting), there are several open cases remaining: Mat Latos and Michael Dunn (Marlins), Josh Donaldson and Danny Valencia (Blue Jays), Mike Minor (Braves), and Aroldis Chapman, Devin Mesoraco and Todd Frazier (Reds).

Meanwhile, some other clubs have historically employed the “file and trial” approach on a modified or case-by-case basis: the Pirates, Nationals, and Indians. Among those clubs, the Pirates (Neil Walker, Vance Worley) and Nationals (Jerry Blevins) have open cases, though all of them feature relatively tight spreads.

And there are some other interesting cases to keep an eye on as well. Consider:

  • The Orioles and Royals not only faced off in last year’s American League Championship Series, but find themselves staring at by far the most unresolved cases (six and eight, respectively). They are also the only teams with eight-figure gaps between their submissions and those of their players ($10.85MM and $10MM, respectively).
  • Among the Orioles players, two stand out for the significant relative gulf separating team and player. Zach Britton, who excelled after taking over as the closer last year, filed at $4.2MM while the team countered at $2.2MM, leaving a $2MM gap that is worth nearly 91% of the club’s offer. Even more remarkably, the O’s will need to bridge a $3.4MM gap ($5.4MM versus $2MM) with surprise star Steve Pearce. That spread is 1.7 times the value of the team’s offer and easily beats the largest difference last year (Logan Morrison and the Mariners, 127.3%).
  • Of course, it is worth remembering that first-year arb salaries have added impact because they set a baseline for future earnings. (Each successive year’s salary is essentially calculated as an earned raise from that starting point.) For the Reds, the outcome of their cases with Frazier ($5.7MM vs. $3.9MM) and Mesoraco ($3.6MM vs. $2.45MM) could have huge ramifications for whether the team will be able to afford to keep (and possibly extend) that pair of strong performers.
  • Likewise, the Angels face an important showdown with Garrett Richards, a Super Two whose starting point will factor into three more seasons of payouts. As a high-upside starter, he has sky high earning potential, so any savings will be most welcome to the team. The current spread is $3.8MM versus $2.4MM, a $1.4MM difference that equates to 58.3% of the team’s filing price.
  • Interestingly, the biggest gap in absolute terms belong to Pearce and the Orioles at $3.4MM. After that come Bud Norris and the Orioles ($2.75MM), David Freese and the Angels ($2.35MM), Greg Holland and the Royals ($2.35MM), Dexter Fowler and the Astros ($2.3MM), Eric Hosmer and the Royals ($2.1MM), and Aroldis Chapman and the Reds ($2.05MM).

Of course, plenty of deals already got done today. Here are some of the more notable among them:

  • David Price agreed to a $19.75MM salary with the Tigers that stands as the single highest arbitration payday ever, by a fair margin.
  • Interestingly, the Rays agreed to rather similar, sub-projection deals with all seven of their arb-eligible players. Discounts on Swartz’s expectations ranged from 3.23% to 13.21%. In total, the club shaved $1.525MM off of its tab.
  • The opposite was true of the Tigers, who spent a total of $1.4MM over the projections on just three players. Of course, since one of those players was Price, the commitment landed just 5.2% over the projected total.
  • Detroit’s overages pale in comparison to those of the Cubs, who handed out several of the deals that beat the projections by the widest relative margin and ended up over $2.5MM (14.5%) over their projected spend.
  • The MLBTR/Swartz model badly whiffed (over 50% off) on just three players, all of whom earned well over the projections: Chris Coghlan of the Cubs (78.9%), Carlos Carrasco of the Indians (66.9%) Tony Sipp of the Astros (60%).
  • On the low side, the worst miss (or the biggest discount, depending on one’s perspective) was Mark Melancon of the Pirates, who fell $2.2MM and 28.9% shy of his projected earnings. Danny Espinosa (Nationals) and Chris Tillman (Orioles) were the only two other players to fall 20% or more below their projections. Of course, in the cases of both Melancon and Tillman, Swartz accurately predicted that they would fall short of the model.