Bud Norris Rumors
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.
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.
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 Peavy, Lauber 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.”
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, 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.
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).
- 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.
12:11pm: Saunders is not a target for the Orioles right now, hears Connolly.
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.
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.
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:
- Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets that the Pirates have no plans to move Glasnow, though they still have plenty in the system to acquire Norris. Alex Rios also remains a target for Pittsburgh.
- 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.
The Orioles currently stand to take the second wild card spot in the American League, and they've already bolstered their pitching staff with the additions of Scott Feldman and Francisco Rodriguez. Here's the latest on their trade targets, courtesy of Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun:
- Connolly feels the Phillies' Michael Young is the best fit for the Orioles at DH, but the team hasn't made an aggressive push for him at this point. Connolly expects Young to go elsewhere if traded.
- The Orioles are interested in the Mets' Marlon Byrd. However, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes today that Byrd is "highly unlikely" to be traded. Connolly also believes Mariners lefty reliever Oliver Perez is the most likely player to be acquired by the Orioles.
- Connolly says to forget about Cliff Lee and Jake Peavy. Instead, the O's have coveted the Astros' Bud Norris and Chris Sale of the White Sox.
- Connolly expects the Orioles to pass on the Twins' Justin Morneau.
- Orioles minor leaguers Mike Wright, Tim Berry, and Christian Walker have piqued teams' interests.
- Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette feels he has the money and prospects to make a deal, if the right one comes along.
After a look at the AL East earlier this morning, let's turn our attention out west ...
- While the Athletics are looking to buttress their 4-game division lead by buying at the deadline, John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group reports that the club is finding supply to be limited. "Right now there are more buyers than there are sellers, more buyers than last year," says GM Billy Beane. Second base and starting pitching are the needs atop Oakland's wish list, team sources tell Hickey. In spite of the rotation's solid performance to date, Hickey says a trade could allow the team to utilize Brett Anderson in a bullpen role when he returns from injury. Citing Beane's apparent willingness to take on some relatively significant salary obligations, Hickey lists Jake Peavy (White Sox), Edinson Volquez (Padres), Bud Norris (Astros), and Kyle Lohse (Brewers) as potential targets.
- After adding starter Matt Garza, the Rangers are looking at dealing for an outfielder, writes CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman. Currently, says Heyman, Alex Rios of the White Sox is the most likely candidate for Texas. Heyman further notes, however, that the club could look to wait out the market in the hopes that players like Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins, Michael Cuddyer of the Rockies, Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays, or the Giants' Hunter Pence become available, with Pence being the most likely among those to change hands. Texas has also considered Chris Denorfia of the Padres, Marlon Byrd of the Mets, and Justin Ruggiano of the Marlins, though Heyman notes that those options would rank below Rios in terms of impact.
- The Astros' Mark Appel is the highest-rated player from the recent amateur draft on MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo's updated Top 100 prospects list. As Mayo explains in his overview of the changes to the list, the top overall choice leads a group of eight recently-drafted players to crack the top 100. Houston is tied with the Red Sox with the most total players to make Mayo's list, with eight apiece. In terms of a simple weighting metric that Mayo calls "Prospect Points," the 'Stros have the most overall prospect value in baseball in high-end prospects, followed closely by the Twins. Though the Astros passed on top overall prospect Byron Buxton in last year's draft, its strategy enabled it to land the players currently checking in at number nine (Carlos Correa) and number sixty-five (Lance McCullers) instead.
3:02pm: Clubs that have spoken with the Braves get the sense that they won't trade for a starter, according to ESPN's Jayson Stark (on Twitter). The Braves are adamant in their stance on not trading top prospects and are more focused on the bullpen. Stark adds that the Braves also aren't "roaring down the Bud Norris trail," as he lacks the big game experience that the Braves prefer when acquiring a pitcher.
FRIDAY, 12:15pm: The Braves are more focused on front-line starting pitchers such as Jake Peavy and Ervin Santana than they are on Norris, writes Mark Bowman of MLB.com. Peavy's 118-pitch outing yesterday, which was scouted by the Braves, helped to quell some of the hesitation surrounding his health, Bowman adds. The Braves aren't interested in Yovani Gallardo, according to Bowman, but they may contact the Brewers regarding Kyle Lohse's availability.
Norris, 28, has a 3.93 ERA with 6.4 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 126 1/3 innings for the Astros this season. He carries a significant platoon split, as lefties have rocked him at a .306/.365/.494 clip. Despite his struggles against lefties, Norris has drawn interest from multiple teams, including the Red Sox, Pirates, Phillies, Rangers, Giants and Dodgers throughout the summer.
2:37pm: In the wake of Tim Hudson's season-ending ankle injury last night, the Braves will consider making a trade to upgrade their rotation, writes David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journa-Constitution. O'Brien was among the reporters who spoke with general manager Frank Wren today, who told the media:
“A lot of thoughts have gone through my mind since last night. It’s created a lot more (trade) discussions, there’s no question.”
It wasn't long ago that the Braves looked to have an enviable surplus of starting pitching with Hudson, Mike Minor, Julio Teheran, Paul Maholm and Kris Medlen in the rotation and a returning Brandon Beachy on the horizon. However, the team has seen Maholm and Medlen struggle tremendously lately, and Maholm is slated to miss his next three starts with a sprained left wrist. The Braves feel that Beachy is ready to return, and rookie Alex Wood presents another option, but he didn't escape the fifth inning today. Wood lasted just three frames in his only other start for the Braves this season.
Wren and his top assistants will convene over the weekend to discuss their options, O'Brien writes. That group will try to determine if there's a starting option on the market who can improve the team significantly without costing too much in terms of young talent. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tweets that Wren, like most general managers, is waiting to see if the asking prices on available starters drops as the deadline nears. O'Brien adds that the Braves are not in the mix for Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez.
Earlier today it was reported that the Braves will be one of the many teams scouting Jake Peavy's start against the Tigers in Chicago. The team also remains in the market for a left-handed reliever to fortify its bullpen after losing Jonny Venters and Eric O'Flaherty to Tommy John surgery.