Braves righty Bud Norris had a dismal start to the season, but he’s righted the ship over the past seven weeks or so and is drawing trade interest from multiple clubs, including the Marlins, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports (via Twitter).
Norris, 31, isn’t exactly a marquee trade chip but would be an affordable arm for contenders that could pitch either out of the rotation or bullpen if teams are convinced that his recent turnaround has some sustainability. Norris was rocked for an 8.74 ERA through five starts in April, but since that time he’s pitched quite well, recording a 2.43 ERA (2.80 FIP, 3.74 xFIP) with 7.8 K/9, 3.8 BB/9 and a 52.4 percent ground-ball rate across 40 2/3 innings between the Atlanta ’pen and rotation. (Norris has recovered his starting job after briefly losing it due to the aforementioned struggles.) He’s earning a modest $2.5MM this season after inking a one-year deal in the winter, and he’s owed about $1.38MM of that sum through the end of the season. As such, he’s affordable to virtually any team in the Majors from a financial standpoint.
It’s unrealistic to expect a significant return for Norris, his recent success and low financial commitment notwithstanding. He did, after all, struggle tremendously in 2015 when he posted a combined 6.72 ERA in 83 innings between the Orioles (who designated Norris for assignment and subsequently released him last summer) and the Padres. His track record prior to the ’15 campaign was that of a mid-rotation starter but not necessarily an innings eater; he logged a respectable 4.06 ERA from 2011-14 with the Astros and O’s but averaged just 174 innings per season in that time. The Braves may be able to leverage his recent success and improved ground-ball tendencies into a fringe prospect, and that was probably Atlanta’s ideal scenario when signing him to that one-year deal in the offseason in the first place.
Heyman also lists the White Sox, Mariners and Tigers as possible teams that Norris could assist, though he does so in a speculative fashion as opposed to listing those clubs as teams to have inquired with the Braves. The Marlins, though, appear to be casting a fairly wide net in their search for rotation help. Norris is the third starting pitcher this week that’s been directly connected to the Fish, who reportedly have interest in Rays right-hander Jake Odorizzi and Padres lefty Drew Pomeranz as well. Norris is a much more plausible target for Miami, as the team has one of the weakest farm systems in the game, and the asking price on Norris will be considerably lower than the price on a controllable, prime-aged arm like Odorizzi or Pomeranz.