Bud Norris Rumors
The Red Sox were never a big factor in trade talks for Matt Garza because the team viewed him strictly as a rental and wasn't interested in offering him a long-term extension, writes WEEI.com's Rob Bradford. Because they only saw him as a two-and-a-half-month acquisition (plus the playoffs, ideally), they were unwilling to deal top-tier prospects. The Rangers are said to be on the verge of acquiring Garza as of this morning.
Bradford's colleague Alex Speier reports that the Red Sox are interested in Bud Norris more than rentals like Garza and Ervin Santana (though Santana is reportedly unavailable anyway). Boston has inquired on Norris, according to Speier, but finds the asking price to be too high at this time. GM Ben Cherington and his staff feel that he's being priced more like a front-of-the-rotation arm than a mid-rotation or back-end starter. That gels with previous reports that the Astros want a pair of top prospects for Norris, who has also drawn interest from the Rangers, Pirates, Dodgers, Blue Jays and Giants recently.
Speier adds that the Sox are pleased with their core of upper-level pitching prospects such as Allen Webster, Brandon Workman, Drake Britton and Rubby de la Rosa. However, because none of them have proven anything at the big league level, the team may become more aggressive on Norris (and similarly controllable pitchers) if Houston's asking price drops. Norris is being paid just $3MM in 2013 and is controlled via arbitration through the 2015 campaign. Bradford notes that interest in adding an arm will increase if Clay Buchholz's health setbacks continue.
The Rangers are in on the Astros' Bud Norris as a back-up plan if they fail to acquire Matt Garza from the Cubs, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reports via Twitter. Passan adds that the Pirates, Dodgers, Blue Jays and Giants are all interested in Norris.
Norris has been one of the most talked-about trade chips in July, with an executive telling Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com last week that he could be the next starter to be moved. Norris may not provide as immediate of an impact as Garza, but with a paltry $3MM salary this season and two years of team control remaining after this year, he offers significant long-term value. According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, the Astros' have set the high price of two top prospects in exchange for the hurler.
Norris, 28, has a 3.63 ERA in 114 innings this year, a mark that would be the best of his career. Though his strikeout rate has fallen significantly this season, he's cut his walk and home run rates. The right hander told MLB.com's Brian McTaggart in June that he hasn't discussed a long-term deal with the Astros and understands that a deal may be on the horizon.
Here's a look at the latest out of the AL West..
- Peter Gammons of MLB.com tweets that every General Manager he has spoken with says the Mariners are asking for "premier prospects" in exchange for lefty relievers Oliver Perez, Charlie Furbush and Brian Moran. We learned recently that Perez has drawn interest from the Orioles, Braves, and others.
- In his latest Scouts Corner column, CBS Sports' Danny Knobler cites an executive who suggests that the Astros' Bud Norris could be the next starting pitcher to be traded. "He's got good stuff. It's about the consistency of command. I think most contending teams will see him as a fourth starter. The problem is they're going to ask a lot for him," a scout tells Knobler. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com wrote earlier tonight that the asking price is high for Norris as Houston is seeking two highly-rated prospects in return.
- An executive on the hunt for pitching tells Andy Martino of the New York Daily News that the Astros' Norris is basically one of three decent available starters right now. The others are the Cubs' Matt Garza and Yovani Gallardo of the Brewers. The asking price for all three is really high, according to the exec, which is consistent with what we've been hearing.
Aaron Steen contributed to this post.
The Astros know that there's not a whole lot of quality starting pitching available on the trade market this year and they have an asking price to reflect it for their top hurler. To part with righty Bud Norris, rival GMs tell Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com that the Astros are asking for two top prospects in return.
Heyman sees Norris as fitting somewhere in "the upper echelon" of starting pitchers in this year's market, which he says also includes Matt Garza and Yovani Gallardo. "Garza is the biggest immediate impact guy and Norris is the best long value guy,'' a GM tells Heyman. With a reasonable salary - just $3MM this season - and an additional two years of team control, Norris could be an attractive option to contenders, particularly if top targets such as Cliff Lee remain unavailable.
In an recent column, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports noted that the Padres would prefer a pitcher whom they can control beyond 2013 if they make a trade, and Norris certainly fits that bill. Norris, 28, has pitched to a 3.63 ERA in 114 innings this year, striking out 6.4 K/9 and walking 2.8 BB/9.
As Astros people note, that low salary and the team's sub-$30MM payroll mean there's no need for them to trade the righty, potentially giving them extra leverage in negotiations. However, some believe that Norris will be the next starter to be traded. There's plenty of trade talk around Norris and Houston may not be ready to contend for the next several years.
Peter Gammons reported earlier today that there was buzz amongst the league's general managers that Ricky Nolasco would end up with the Giants before the trade deadline. This sentiment is shared even by another general manager who is himself interested in Nolasco; this mystery GM tells USA Today's Bob Nightengale that he expects Brian Sabean to outbid the field in the race for the Marlins righty.
Here are some more items from around the majors...
- The Angels might make pending free agents Jason Vargas or Scott Downs available at the trade deadline if they decide to sell, MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez opines, though there won't be any major moves. "I'm told nothing will cause them to blow up the roster and start all over again," Gonzalez writes, since the front office still believes the club can be contenders in 2014 and beyond and the Josh Hamilton/Albert Pujols contracts make it difficult to truly rebuild.
- The Angels have nothing to show for their efforts in acquiring big-name pitchers (Scott Kazmir, Dan Haren and Zack Greinke) at the trade deadline in three of the last four seasons, MLB.com's Lyle Spencer writes. Making matters worse for the Halos is that they dealt several top prospects in those trades, giving away such notable talents as Jean Segura, Patrick Corbin, Tyler Skaggs and Alex Torres.
- The Twins have exceeded expectations this year but "it's hard to see a scenario in which they'll be buyers" at the trade deadline, MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger writes as part of a reader mailbag. A hot streak over the next month could change plans, though with the Tigers unlikely to be caught atop the AL Central, Bollinger suspects the Twins will stick with their rebuilding plan.
- Bud Norris noted that he hasn't discussed a long-term deal with the Astros and he wouldn't be surprised if he is traded, the right-hander tells MLB.com's Brian McTaggart. "If the trade deadline is here and I'm still in an Astros uniform, I'll be happy with that," Norris said. "I understand something could happen, but at the end of the day, my focus right now is still in Houston, and that's where it's going to stay." The Pirates, Orioles and Giants have all reportedly considered acquiring Norris and more suitors are likely to follow.
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro was non-committal about whether or not the Phils would call up Carlos Zambrano before his July 1 opt-out date. Amaro told reporters (including Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer) that Zambrano has "been inconsistent" in the minors and that he doesn't see the righty as a relief pitcher.
Ken Rosenthal shares a few hot stove-related items in his latest column for FOX Sports...
- The Padres are known to be looking for starting pitching, and Rosenthal notes that San Diego would prefer to pick up a younger starter who is signed beyond this season. An exception could be Ricky Nolasco, as Rosenthal repeated his suggestion from yesterday that Nolasco could be open to re-signing with the Padres given that the pending free agent hails from southern California.
- Astros right-hander Bud Norris is cited as one of the controllable younger arms that fits the mold of what the Padres are looking for, though one rival executive thinks Norris "isn’t the best bet to make a team leap forward. Will he help a team improve? Yes. Would I stamp him as a difference-maker? Not a definite.” Norris has been connected to the Pirates, Giants and Orioles in trade speculation and I profiled him as a trade candidate last month.
- While the Rangers could use some outfield help, the decision to use Jurickson Profar as an outfielder is somewhat risky, Rosenthal opines. Profar is learning a new position on the fly and has yet to deliver much at the plate in his brief Major League career. If he struggles, he'll lose some trade value if the Rangers decide to move him, and the team may also have more trouble convincing Ian Kinsler to eventually move to the outfield to make room for Profar at second base.
- The Astros had an arrangement in place to draft Shelby Miller with the 21st overall pick of the 2009 draft, Miller tells Rosenthal, except the Cardinals took Miller with the 19th pick. Miller, a Texas native, was also managed by a Rangers scout during a high school showcase event but the Rangers passed on Miller with their 14th overall pick in the draft and instead took righty Matt Purke, who never signed with the club.
- The Jordan Walden-for-Tommy Hanson trade is looking like "a steal" for the Braves, in the words of one rival executive. Walden has been a force (2.70 ERA, 10 K/9, 6.50 K/BB rate in 23 1/3 IP) out of the Atlanta bullpen while Hanson has battled injuries and posted a 5.10 ERA over nine starts with the Angels.
At 42-31, the Orioles have the second-best record in the American League. That impressive win total comes despite the fact that their starting pitchers, as a whole, have the fourth-worst ERA in the Majors at 4.76. Given that number, it's no surprise to see MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli write that the Orioles will be in the market for starting pitching help in her latest Orioles Inbox. According to Ghiroli, names like Ricky Nolasco, Bud Norris, Jason Vargas and Joe Saunders are on the team's radar. She adds that Mike Pelfrey's name has also surfaced.
No one from that group stands out as an ace-caliber pitcher, which meshes with Ghiroli's statement that the Orioles "would like to add at least one more pitcher to help eat innings and keep the bullpen fresh." That trade could come prior to the July 31 non-waiver deadline, or, if asking prices are high, executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette could make a waiver trade in August as he did in 2012 when he acquired Saunders from the Diamondbacks for Matt Lindstrom.
Asked about the Orioles seeking a potential upgrade at second base via the trade market, Ghiroli said that the team isn't looking for second base upgrades. Baltimore is satisfied with the defense of Ryan Flaherty, and Brian Roberts is nearing a rehab assignment. According to Ghiroli, the Orioles would prefer to "[funnel] any and all resources and trade chips into helping out the rotation."
Not surprisingly, the Orioles aren't willing to discuss Kevin Gausman or Dylan Bundy in trades, which is likely the reason for focusing on second- and third-tier trade targets. Of the five names mentioned, Norris figures to have the highest asking price. Only he is controlled beyond 2013; each of the other four can be free agents at season's end.
Earlier this season the O's were said to be looking for a top-of-the-rotation starter, but they seem to have shifted that focus. Given their unwillingness to part with Gausman or Bundy, it stands to reason that acquiring an ace-caliber arm would've been an unrealistic goal.
Here's tonight's look around baseball as Tuesday turns into Wednesday..
- Bud Norris knows that he's a prime trade candidate, writes Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Norris tells Morosi that he feels it's critical to stay informed: “I don’t think you want to be blindsided by it: One day, you come to the park and, boom, you’re gone. I don’t pay too much attention to it, but I’m definitely in the loop." Norris goes on to say that being traded to the Giants, his favorite team as a child, would be a dream come true, but he would be excited to stay with the Astros and keep helping them as well.
- Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com wonders if an Andre Ethier trade is inevitable for the Dodgers. As it stands now, the only other alternatives are Yasiel Puig getting sent down, someone other than Ethier getting traded, or Ethier becoming the club's fourth outfielder once they're back to full strength. Puig is obviously going to stay in the Majors, and trades involving Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford are unlikely, making Ethier the most likely man to go.
- Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet looks at the Blue Jays' options for making room on the roster when Jose Reyes returns to action. Their roster shuffling could lead them to expose someone to waivers and Emilio Bonifacio is a candidate.
- Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch weighs the pros and cons of the Cardinals going after Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee. Ultimately, Miklasz concludes that Cards GM John Mozeliak won't take on Lee’s full salary commitment or surrender his best pitching prospects, even if there is a surplus.
Now that the draft is over, teams are focusing more on bolstering their rotations with one more piece, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. No one more aggressive in the pursuit of pitching than Orioles GM Dan Duquette who knows that one veteran starter could make all the difference. While they're anxious to improve their starting five, it doesn't sound as if the O's will be in the mix for someone like Cliff Lee. “We’re looking for a starter and a reliever,” said Duquette. “We’d like to solidify our pitching all around because that’s the name of the game, really. We have to look at everything. Don’t think we’re going to be in the market for a big-money pitcher, but there seem to be some guys out there that we might focus on and see where it takes us.” Here's more from today's column..
- The Astros will craft a game plan early this week for how to approach their veteran assets. Teams are already calling about Bud Norris, who has a cheap $3MM salary, but won't be cheap to acquire. The Orioles, Giants, and Pirates have kicked around the idea of acquiring Norris, but one National League exec says there will be about a dozen teams interested before all is said and done.
- It seems like a no-brainer for the A’s to pick up Coco Crisp's 2014 option for $7.5MM, but he'll be in demand if they don’t. Even though he's 33-years-old, there aren’t many top center fielder/leadoff hitter types out there. Jacoby Ellsbury will be the No. 1 guy in that department, but , one American League special assignment scout said Crisp might be a better low-cost option because “he can do everything Ellsbury can do. Neither of them have an arm, but Coco is still fast, a very good outfielder, and can still be a game-changer.”
- The Phillies believe there are at least three teams — Red Sox, Tigers, and Cardinals — that may have some interest in Jonathan Papelbon at the trade deadline and the Phillies are scouting those teams with a potential deal in mind. General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said last week that he’s not ready to “blow up” the Phillies, but a Papelbon trade could help retool the club.
- Teams continue to nudge Javier Vazquez into coming back to pitch, but the right-hander seems to be content with staying with his family, according to a source familiar with Vazquez’s thinking.
- The Red Sox can trade Stephen Drew now that June 15th has come and gone, and they would have no problem finding a taker given the lack of shortstops around baseball. However, Boston firmly believes that Drew is their guy. One National League GM doesn't quite understand their infatuation with the shortstop. “They’re either trying to justify the $9.5MM they paid him, or they’re not sold on [Jose] Iglesias, who could start for 29 other teams.”
- If the White Sox decide to finally bolster their farm system, they could get some helpful prospects back by moving right-hander Jesse Crain. The reliever is becoming a top name on wish lists around baseball.
- While many baseball people remain focused on Giancarlo Stanton’s availability in a deal, 25-year-old Logan Morrison is now healthy and has returned to the lineup. The Marlins first baseman/outfielder is a big lefthanded hitter who will be monitored closely by scouts over the next month.
The Giants are already looking hard at the trade market in search of a starter, officials who speak regularly with club decision-makers tell Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com. This is a somewhat unusual development for San Francisco, as they haven't made a major trade for a starter since acquiring Sidney Ponson 10 years ago.
Two specific names that the Giants have checked into, writes Knobler, are Ricky Nolasco and Bud Norris. Neither inquiry has resulted in serious negotiations to this point. The Giants aren't likely to limit their search to those two names, either:
"Anybody that's trading pitching, they're on," one of the officials said. "They want somebody quality."
The Giants opened the season with a rotation consisting of Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum, Ryan Vogelsong and Barry Zito. Vogelsong struggled all season and is on the DL with a fractured hand. Lincecum hasn't rediscovered his Cy Young form, and improbably, Cain has been the worst of the healthy group. Zito, as Knobler notes, has a pristine 1.94 ERA at home but the worst road ERA of any pitcher with at least four starts -- 10.19.
Higher profile names on the trade market would include Josh Johnson and Matt Garza, though Knobler notes that Giants general manager Brian Sabean has typically steered clear of players with health issues.