The Padres and Athletics have continued their busy offseasons by announcing a multiplayer deal. Catcher Derek Norris, right-hander Seth Streich and an international signing slot are on the way to San Diego. with right-handers Jesse Hahn and R.J. Alvarez going to Oakland. The #117 international signing slot carries a value of $144.1K (hat tip to Baseball America).
Norris, 25, hit .270/.361/.403 with 10 homers in 442 plate appearances with the A’s last season, earning his first All-Star appearance in the process. The right-handed hitting Norris did much of his damage against lefty pitching (.863 OPS vs. LHP, .699 OPS vs. RHP) and in the first half of the season, as he hit only .240/.324/.335 after the All-Star break. Norris is still a year away from arbitration eligibility and he’s under team control through the 2018 season.
The trade finishes off San Diego’s complete overhaul of their catching situation over the last week. Once the Matt Kemp and Wil Myers trades are official, the Padres will have moved out Yasmani Grandal and Rene Rivera while adding Norris, Ryan Hanigan and Tim Federowicz. With top prospect Austin Hedges also waiting in the wings behind the plate, Norris and the two veterans could essentially serve as a bridge for a season or two until Hedges (who has yet to hit Triple-A) is ready.
In that case Norris could be moved to first base in 2016 or sooner, given that he has graded out as a below-average defensive catcher in his brief Major League career, including an infamously tough game against the Royals in last year’s AL Wild Card game. The Padres were known to be looking for corner infield help, so Norris could see some part-time action at first this year in a platoon with left-handed hitting Yonder Alonso.
Hahn, 25, was rumored as a possible trade chip as the Padres looked for hitters. The righty posted a 3.07 ERA, 8.6 K/9, 2.19 K/BB and a 50.3% ground ball rate over 73 1/3 innings in 2014, his first taste of Major League action. He came to San Diego last January from Tampa Bay as part of the Logan Forsythe trade.
Alvarez also made his MLB debut last season, allowing one earned run over eight relief innings out of the Padres’ bullpen. The 25-year-old has a fastball that has touched the high-90’s and boasts some impressive minor league numbers, including a 2.41 ERA, 13.4 K/9 and 3.49 K/BB rate over 119 1/3 IP (mostly out of the bullpen). This is Alvarez’s second trade in less than six months, as he was part of the prospect package that San Diego received from the Angels for Huston Street in July.
Hahn and Alvarez are each controllable through the 2020 season, giving the A’s two more quality young arms to go along with other offseason pitching acquisitions like Chris Bassitt, Sean Nolin and Kendall Graveman. With the A’s so deep in starters, MLB.com’s Jane Lee opines (Twitter link) that the club is preparing to unload some of this pitching depth as part of a larger trade for a hitter. Behind the plate, meanwhile, Stephen Vogt and the newly-acquired Josh Phegley look to be Oakland’s new catching platoon with Norris gone.
Streich, a sixth-round pick in the 2012 draft, has a 3.37 ERA, 3.04 K/BB rate and 8.5 K/9 over 262 minor league innings, none above the high-A level. He entered the year ranked by Baseball America as the 25th-best player in Oakland’s farm system.
Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (Twitter links) was the first to report that Norris was going to the Padres. FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi had Streich’s involvement while Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan was the first to report (via Twitter) the full trade.