Bud Norris Rumors

Astros’ Trade Discussion Notes Leaked

4:30pm: The Astros have issued the following statement regarding the leaked notes:

“Last month, we were made aware that proprietary information held on Astros’ servers and in Astros’ applications had been illegally obtained. Upon learning of the security breach, we immediately notified MLB security who, in turn, notified the FBI.  Since that time, we have been working closely with MLB security and the FBI to the determine the party, or parties, responsible.  This information was illegally obtained and published, and we intend to prosecute those involved to the fullest extent.

“It is unfortunate and extremely disappointing that an outside source has illegally obtained confidential information.  While it does appear that some of the content released was based on trade conversations, a portion of the material was embellished or completely fabricated.”

2:29pm: Extensive trade discussion notes, apparently logged by Astros executives about their talks with other teams, have been leaked onto the site AnonBin here and here, with Deadspin breaking the story and Yahoo’s Jeff Passan verifying the authenticity of the logs.  The earliest notes are from June 2013, and the latest are from March of this year.  The Astros have yet to comment on the leak, which provides unprecedented detail into how the team values players and approaches trade discussions.  According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Astros have been reaching out to people around baseball apologizing for the leaks, and plan to issue a statement soon.

A March feature by Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle outlines Ground Control, the Astros’ confidential internal database from which the trade discussion notes were likely taken.  At this time, it’s unclear whether the information reached the Internet via a rogue employee of the team, or by some kind of security vulnerability in Ground Control.  The trade discussion information, mostly from last summer and offseason, is somewhat dated in the fast-moving baseball hot stove world.  The larger ramification is the breach of trust experienced by the many non-Astros executives cited in the notes.  It’s unlikely any team would rule out the Astros as a trading partner based on this breach, but some teams could approach talks with added caution.  Additionally, I imagine the many other teams with such highly sensitive material online are doubling down on security right now.

The Astros’ trade notes from last summer and offseason range from the blockbuster to the mundane; here are some highlights.

  • On November 15th, Astros GM Jeff Luhnow expressed interest with Marlins GM Dan Jennings in slugger Giancarlo Stanton.  From the notes: “[Jennings] said he doesn’t think he’ll trade Stanton and the only deal he could think of from us that would work would be [George] Springer and [Carlos] Correa. [Luhnow] said that would not work. [Luhnow] posited a deal around [Jarred] Cosart and [Delino] DeShields.”  It’s not a big surprise that Luhnow rejected Jennings’ proposal out of hand, as Correa and Springer were ranked #4 and #19 on Keith Law’s top 100 prospects list for ESPN, and are major building blocks for Houston.  That Luhnow didn’t appear to offer either player suggests he was mostly gauging Stanton’s price after an off-year with three years of control remaining.  UPDATE: Jennings has commented to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, saying it’s fabricated that they ever offered Stanton to the Astros or any other team, also using the word “laughable.”
  • Interest in Astros catcher Jason Castro was strong last offseason, with a few surprising suitors.  The Blue Jays and Rangers reached out in mid-October to gauge Castro’s price, the White Sox had “definite high interest,” and Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik told Luhnow in November that he was getting calls from other teams asking if he could get Castro from the Astros for those teams.  Zduriencik offered Dustin Ackley and was turned down.
  • Notes for the Astros’ summer trade discussions begin at June 17th, 2013.  The team ultimately went on to acquire Ronald Torreyes from the Cubs in June, and also dealt veterans Jose Veras, Bud Norris, and Justin Maxwell near the July deadline.  The Astros did not end up acquiring any top 100-type prospects, but they sure did ask for the moon.  For Norris, the Astros sought Kyle Crick and Clayton Blackburn from the Giants, Dylan Bundy or Kevin Gausman from the Orioles, Marcus Stroman and more from the Blue Jays, Xander Bogaerts, Allen Webster, Jackie Bradley Jr., or Garin Cecchini from the Red Sox, and Tyler Glasnow plus Luis Heredia or Nick Kingham from the Pirates.  The Red Sox offered Ryan Lavarnway or Deven Marrero for Norris and were turned down.  In the end, the Astros traded Norris and an international draft slot to the Orioles for L.J. Hoes, Josh Hader, and a 2014 competitive balance pick.
  • When Nationals GM Mike Rizzo called to express interest in middling Astros starting pitcher Lucas Harrell, who had a 5.17 ERA at the time and nearly as many walks as strikeouts, “[Luhnow] told him we would still need a headliner like [Lucas] Giolito because we still value Harrell highly. Rizzo did not respond immediately.”
    Harrell was designated for assignment, outrighted, and traded for a pittance nine months later, so the Astros might have overplayed their hand.
  • “Untouchable” players from other teams were revealed through conversations with their executives.  White Sox GM Rick Hahn wouldn’t consider trading Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Jose Abreu, or Avisail Garcia.  Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos considered Brett Lawrie off-limits.  Pirates outfield prospect Gregory Polanco came up as well, in that GM Neal Huntington wouldn’t include him in any Norris deal.  In December talks regarding Harrell, the Giants said they would not discuss Brandon Belt.
  • More random notes: Mets executive Paul DePodesta asked Luhnow if the Astros would consider trading shortstop Jonathan Villar in a Daniel Murphy deal in December…the Marlins expressed interest in Jose Altuve, Matt Dominguez, and others in December.

Reactions To The Ubaldo Jimenez Agreement

After a quiet offseason for the Orioles, the team pounced in mid-February, officially announcing a three-year deal for righty Suk-min Yoon yesterday but more significantly (from a financial standpoint, at least) agreeing to a four-year, $50MM contract with Ubaldo Jimenez. Baltimore surrendered the No. 17 pick in this year's draft to issue the largest contract for a pitcher in franchise history. Some early reactions and fallout in the wake of the Jimenez pact…

  • Deep down, the Indians never really wanted Jimenez back in Cleveland, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. While the team admired Jimenez's work ethic and felt he was a positive presence in the clubhouse, they didn't feel his wild performance swings were worth the trouble. Hoynes points out that it's a bonus that Baltimore landed Jimenez, because their forfeiture of the No. 17 pick allows Cleveland to move from No. 22 overall to the No. 21 overall pick in the first round.
  • ESPN's Keith Law writes that despite the associated risk, the contract is a win for the Orioles (ESPN Insider required and recommended). He feels the $12.5MM annual value can end up being a bargain for a pitcher that at times shows three pitches which grade as a 60 or better on the 20-80 scale. Additionally, it allows Kevin Gausman to work on the consistency of his slider in the minors, which he will need in order to thrive as a Major League starter.
  • Law's colleague Buster Olney reports that the Orioles upped their offer from three to four years under the belief that the Red Sox and Blue Jays were both aggressively pursuing Jimenez. However, his sources indicate that neither club actually made an offer (Insider required). Olney points out some risks, such as Jimenez's struggles in limiting the running game, and he also opines that the O's should be more willing to lose further draft picks by pursuing Nelson Cruz, Kendrys Morales and perhaps even Stephen Drew.
  • MLB.com's Britt Ghiroli runs down what the Jimenez signing means for other pitchers in the organization. Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez are locks (health-permitting), she writes, but Yoon, Bud Norris and out-of-options Zach Britton will battle for the fifth slot. Gausman is almost certainly ticketed for the minors, she writes. Ghiroli also reports that manager Buck Showalter said he prefers an everyday DH and that the best deals often happen in late spring, suggesting that someone such as Morales could be a fit after all.
  • The Jimenez signing should help to discredit the feeling that Orioles owner Peter Angelos is not willing to spend to win, writes the Baltimore Sun's Peter Schmuck.
  • The Sun's Eduardo A. Encina writes that the Orioles' recent international signings made it slightly easier for executive vice president Dan Duquette to surrender the No. 17 pick, as he felt the club added some additional high-upside talent with those moves.
  • Jimenez turned his career around by relying less on his fastball and more on his offspeed stuff — most notably his splitter, writes Eno Sarris of Fangraphs. Jimenez entered the 2013 season having thrown his split just three percent of the time over his career but threw it 14 percent of the time in 2013 with a 17 percent swing-and-miss rate, which helped offset his diminished velocity. If that trend continues, the $12.5MM annual value can be a bargain, Sarris concludes.
  • The Orioles and Jimenez have been working on this deal for a long time, but things came together quickly yesterday when Baltimore conceded and added a fourth year, writes MASNsport.com's Roch Kubatko.
  • Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that with Jimenez and Matt Garza each landing four-year, $50MM contracts, Ervin Santana's agents now have a great deal of pressure in trying to match that figure. Sherman also spoke to an executive who called Jimenez the "ultimate crapshoot," noting that Baltimore could be getting a star or a bust. That same exec wondered if Jimenez will struggle facing more patient lineups in the AL East (Twitter links).

Orioles Avoid Arbitration With Bud Norris

7:51pm: Norris will earn $5.3MM on a one-year deal in 2014, marking a $2.3MM raise from his $3MM salary in 2013, Connolly tweets.

5:16pm: The Orioles and right-hander Bud Norris have avoided arbitration, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter link). Terms of Norris' deal remain unknown at this time, but MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected him to earn an even $5MM in arbitration heading into the 2014 season.

Norris, 29 in March, posted a 4.80 ERA in 50 2/3 innings for the Orioles after being acquired from the Astros in exchange for L.J. Hoes, Josh Hader and a 2014 competitive balance draft pick. Overall, the big righty pitched to a 4.18 ERA with 7.5 K/9, 3.4 BB/9 and a 40.2 percent ground-ball rate. Though last season was his first in the American League, Norris managed to limit homers more effectively than he ever has and also matched his career-best in BB/9 rate at 3.4. He's controllable through the 2015 season.

With Norris taken care of, the Orioles have five players remaining, including their most high profile cases. As can be seen in MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker, Orioles executive VP Dan Duquette still needs to come to an agreement with Chris Davis, Matt Wieters, Tommy Hunter, Troy Patton and Brian Matusz.



Orioles Notes: Free Agents, Johnson, Wolf, Feldman

The Orioles have been connected to some of the offseason's major free agent names but Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun isn't sure that the O's will be players for Shin-Soo Choo, Ubaldo Jimenez or Nelson Cruz.  Choo will be too costly and Jimenez will demand too many years, while Connolly has "not found anyone in the organization that endorses Cruz as a viable option" and lists several reasons why Cruz isn't a fit in Baltimore.  Here's some more from Camden Yards…

  • Jim Johnson asked the Orioles for a four-year contract worth $45MM-$50MM in extension talks earlier this winter, sources tell MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko.  An extension would've been one way for the O's to keep Johnson at a lower price rather than pay him a projected $10.8MM in arbitration, though obviously Johnson didn't have a bargain in mind with his demands.  The Orioles traded Johnson to the Athletics for Jemile Weeks on Tuesday.
  • The Orioles didn't attend Randy Wolf's workout and don't appear to have any interest in the veteran southpaw, Kubatko reports.  Wolf pitched in five games for Baltimore at the end of the 2012 season and then underwent Tommy John surgery that October, sidelining him for all of 2013.
  • Scott Feldman told Dan Connolly that he was "about 90 percent sure" the Orioles didn't make him a former offer.  “It’s really hard to get disappointed with the situation I am in, but I was at least expecting a little bit of interest from them. But it’s not like I’m mad or anything,” Feldman said in the wake of his three-year, $30MM deal with the Astros.  That third guaranteed year was likely the breaking point for the Orioles, as they had been rumored to only be interested in giving Feldman two years and an option, at most.  MLBTR's Steve Adams has more from Feldman's conference call.
  • The Orioles have considered making Bud Norris their closer to replace Johnson, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports.  This move would only be a "fallback option," Encina notes.  While the O's may yet add a starter and need to make room in their rotation, shifting an innings-eater like Norris to the bullpen would be a curious move, in my opinion.  Also from Encina's piece, Brian Matusz will be stretched out and given an opportunity to win a rotation job during Spring Training.
  • Adam Jones' six-year, $85.5MM extension signed in May 2012 looks like a better bargain in the wake of Jacoby Ellsbury's deal with the Yankees, Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com opines.
  • In Baltimore news from earlier today, the Orioles signed outfielder Francisco Peguero and right-hander Ryan Webb.

Rosenthal On Norris, Lincecum, Rios, Utley

Let's take a look at the latest from FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal in this week's edition of Full Count:

  • The Diamondbacks were the runner-up among teams vying to acquire Bud Norris from the Astros. The Snakes planned to keep Norris in the rotation for the remainder of the season, then shift him to the bullpen through the end of his contract, Rosenthal says, noting the team's wealth of young starting pitching and contracts for relievers Heath Bell and J.J. Putz that will expire after 2014. However, the Orioles were able to offer Houston the superior compensation pick.
  • Tim Lincecum is pushing his free agent stock up with his recent run of strong starts, but the Giants haven't initiated contract talks yet with the hurler. An executive cited by Rosenthal pegged a potential deal for Lincecum in the three-year range with a $13MM-14MM annual salary. Though that initially appears high considering the right hander's poor performance last year and at the beginning of this one, the qualifying offer the Giants are likely to extend will probably be in the same $13MM-14MM range.
  • Though the White Sox weren't able to find a taker for Alex Rios' contract before the deadline, Nelson Cruz's suspension changed the thinking in the Rangers' front office, according to Rosenthal. Texas was previously asking for significant cash back in any trade, while the Pirates weren't even interested enough to discuss specific names, Rosenthal reports. However, the Sox will likely eventually get infielder Leury Garcia from their deal with the Rangers, which could give them the flexibility to trade either second baseman Gordon Beckham or shortstop Alexei Ramirez
  • The dearth of hitters reaching the open market could have made Chase Utley quite popular in free agency. Rosenthal cites the Dodgers, Athletics and Orioles as potential suitors. The two years and $27MM of guaranteed salary that Utley received from the Phillies is comparable to guarantees that David Ortiz, Torii Hunter and Carlos Beltran got in free agency, Rosenthal notes.

AL East Notes: Yankees, O’s, Norris, Jays

The non-waiver trade deadline is in the rear-view mirror, but there could still be some deals happening in August. For a recap of all the trading action pertaining to the AL East, check out Jeff Todd's recap and analysis from last night. Here are more deadline-related links pertaining to the AL East…

  • Yankees GM Brian Cashman said that he had lots of late conversations as yesterday's deadline approached, but he was unable to cross the finish line with any deals, writes Bryan Hoch of MLB.com.  
  • The Orioles were extremely active leading up to the deadline but also looked to make another move by acquiring a right-handed bat, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com.  While that didn't come together, Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette is still enthused about the additions of Scott Feldman, Bud Norris, and Francisco Rodriguez.
  • Several front office execs told Keith Law of ESPN.com (Insider sub. req'd) they view Norris as a potential setup guy who would likely reach the upper 90s with a plus slider in that role.  
  • Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos told reporters on a conference call, including Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com, that there wasn't much happening leading up to the deadline.  "It was pretty quiet overall," Anthopoulos said. "We weren't going to be involved in rentals unless it was a no-brainer, and anything we were going to do was going to help us not only in the current year but moving forward."
  • While nothing came together for the Blue Jays, AA admitted that he's always on the lookout for a starter given the way the rotation has been this year, according to Chisholm in his transcript of the call. 
  • With Jose Iglesias gone, Will Middlebrooks and Xander Bogaerts are on deck for the Red Sox at third base, writes Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald
  • In a conference call with reporters, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington explained that if he was going to give up a long-term asset for pitching help, he wanted someone who could be a part of the club's plans beyond this season, which led him to Jake PeavyLauber writes.  “We went into the deadline feeling like if we could make a move to improve the team and protect our chances to compete and give us every chance to get into October we wanted to do that,” Cherington said. “We wanted to do it in a way that’s not all about this year, preferably, and we were able to find this deal that fit in that category.” 

Orioles Acquire Bud Norris

The Orioles have acquired Bud Norris and an international draft slot from the Astros in exchange for outfielder L.J. Hoes, left-hander Josh Hader and a 2014 Competitive Balance pick. The Orioles won the second pick of Comp Round A in this year’s Competitive Balance lottery. In 2013, that would’ve been the No. 35 pick, which carried a value of $1.588MM. The Astros will send the No. 91 international bonus slot in the deal, which is valued at $213K.

Norris

Norris, 28, has a 3.93 ERA with 6.4 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 126 innings with the Astros this season. Despite being Houston’s highest paid player, Norris is earning just $3MM in 2013. He is controlled through 2015 and is eligible for arbitration for the second time this offseason. With Norris now in Baltimore, Erik Bedard becomes the highest-paid player on the Astros’ roster at just $1.15MM — an unthinkable concept in today’s game.

Hoes, a 23-year-old outfielder, ranked as Baltimore’s No. 6 prospect prior to the season according to Baseball America. Selected by the Orioles in the third round of the 2008 draft, Hoes is batting .304/.406/.403 in 430 plate appearances for Triple-A Norfolk this season. BA notes that Hoes is a pure hitter with a nice line-drive swing with plenty of patience that should lead to high on-base percentages. If his power develops, he profiles as an everyday left fielder, according to BA.

Hader ranked 19th among Orioles prospects prior to the season according to BA, but MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo has him ranked fifth among O’s prospects in the midseason edition of his list, thanks to a strong season at Class-A Delmarva. In 85 innings this season, the 19-year-old Hader has a 2.65 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9. According to Mayo, Hader sits 89-93 mph with his fastball, and his curveball and changeup both project to be average pitches at the least.

The Orioles were the most aggressive team in trades this July, acquiring Scott Feldman, Francisco Rodriguez and Norris to bolster their pitching staff. The Astros, meanwhile, dealt Norris and Jose Veras to continue to build what has become a strong farm system.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported that the two sides had reached an agreement for Hoes and a Competitive Balance pick (Twitter links). Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reported that Hader was involved in the deal (on Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Orioles Making Progress On Deal For Bud Norris

Reports this morning have indicated that the Orioles are still in on Bud Norris, who is controllable through 2015 via arbitration. Norris has been one of the most talked about players leading up to this season’s deadline. Here’s the latest on the 28-year-old…

  • The Orioles are making progress on a trade for Norris, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).

Earlier Updates

  • The Orioles are still in the mix for Norris, while the Giants are doubtful, tweets Stark.
  • Talks for Norris have accelerated in the past hour, and the Pirates, D’Backs and Orioles have been in contact, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link).
  • ESPN’s Jayson Stark tweets that the odds of a Norris trade are up to 75 percent, and multiple teams are still involved.
  • The D’Backs are a “distant maybe” for Norris at this point, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
  • Knobler also tweets that the Indians have had some recent talks with the Astros regarding Norris, though it’s not clear how strong their interest is. Cleveland is reportedly working hard to acquire a starter.
  • The Rangers have interest in acquiring Norris, possibly for the purpose of flipping him for a hitter, according to Danny Knobler of CBS Sports (Twitter link).
  • The Braves have indeed jumped into the mix, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter). The Orioles, Pirates and D’Backs remain possibilities, and there’s a general sense that Norris will be dealt, adds Passan.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports disagrees, reporting that the Braves aren’t in on Norris and never have been (Twitter link). MLB.com’s Mark Bowman tweets a similar report.
  • Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review tweets that the Pirates have the interest and ability to put together a package of lower-level prospects if that type of return interests Astros GM Jeff Luhnow.
  • The Giants and Pirates continue to show a lot of interest in Norris, while the Rangers and D’Backs are in the background as well, according to Peter Gammons of the MLB Network (Twitter link).
  • The Astros need to lower their asking price on Norris significantly for the Orioles to be serious players, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (Twitter link).
  • Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle writes that the Astros have standing offers for Norris but are hoping someone ups their bid as the deadline nears. The Pirates, Orioles and Diamondbacks have shown interest, and a fourth team is in the mix as well. Offers to this point “have been pretty soft,” Smith adds.
  • The Astros appear to be collecting their final offers for Norris, tweets ESPN’s Jayson Stark. The Giants could be a dark horse for Norris, and the Orioles are in the mix, according to Stark.
  • Interest in Norris is picking up, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (on Twitter). The Orioles are in the mix, and Cafardo reports that the Braves have re-joined the talks as well.
  • The Diamondbacks and Pirates don’t seem to be aggressively pursuing Norris, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter). Heyman notes that there’s a chance the Astros hang onto Norris.

Orioles Looking For Starters, Bats

1:55pm: The Orioles are lukewarm on Morneau as well as Mike Morse, tweets Scott Miller of CBS Sports.

12:11pm: Saunders is not a target for the Orioles right now, hears Connolly.

12:02pm: The Orioles are interested in a reunion with Joe Saunders, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. They also have some degree of interest in Oliver Perez, he adds.

10:57am: Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that the Orioles feel the asking prices remain too high in their pursuits of upgrades to their offense and rotation.

10:47am: Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun tweets that the O's kicked around the idea of acquiring Morneau but don't see a fit due to his contract and lack of production. Nothing has heated up in recent days, he adds.

10:23am: The Orioles are still engaged in trade talks for Astros righty Bud Norris and Twins first baseman Justin Morneau, according to Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio (on Twitter).

Baltimore's interest in both players has been well-documented to this point, though they appear to have shown more interest in Norris than Morneau. Norris is controllable for two additional seasons and earning just $3MM in 2013, while the slumping Morneau is a free agent at season's end and is owed an additional $4.6MM through season's end.


Bud Norris Rumors: Tuesday

28-year-old Astros starter Bud Norris was scratched from his start in Baltimore today amid swirling trade rumors.  The righty is under team control through 2015.  The latest:

Earlier Updates

  • In addition to the Orioles and Pirates, the Diamondbacks are also in the mix for Norris, according to McTaggart (on Twitter). The D'Backs are also said to be hot after Jake Peavy, though I imagine they're only interested in adding one of the two arms.
  • Astros manager Bo Porter told reporters, including Brian McTaggart of MLB.com that trade talkes regarding Norris have "gotten deeper." Norris will start for Houston tomorrow if he isn't traded, adds McTaggart (Twitter links).
  • The Orioles have yet to make an offer on Norris, reports Danny Knobler of CBS Sports.  They appear to have interest in the Angels' Jason Vargas, more of an August trade candidate after he recovers from a blood clot in his left armpit.
  • Three teams are hard after Norris, reports McTaggart, including the Orioles, though no deal is imminent.
  • Norris is very likely to be traded today, tweets Yahoo's Jeff Passan, and Pittsburgh could be his landing spot.  He adds that the Pirates won't trade center field Gregory Polanco for Norris, but the Astros do like righty Tyler Glasnow.  Passan goes on to write that other teams are still in on Norris, and one executive says the Astros are motivated to move him.
  • Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle says that while Norris hasn't been informed he's been traded, all signs point to a deal by the deadline.  In contrast, Danny Knobler of CBS Sports hears the Astros have no trade close with anyone as of now.

Steve Adams contributed to this post.