12:34pm: Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports tweets that in addition to the Brewers, the Rangers and Astros are also showing interest in Norris. Of course, the Norris fit only makes sense for the Brewers if Lucroy is moved to another club, and he has since exercised his no-trade clause and squashed a would-be deal to the Indians.
1:01am: The Padres are still pushing to move Derek Norris by Monday afternoon’s non-waiver trade deadline, tweets Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Bleacher Report’s Scott Miller tweets that the Brewers are among the teams currently speaking to San Diego about Norris.
Milwaukee’s connection to Norris is somewhat of a surprise at first, but there’s plenty of logic to the match. First and foremost, if the Brewers’ reported agreement to trade Jonathan Lucroy to the Indians is ultimately finalized (Lucroy must first agree to waive his no-trade protection), Milaukee will be left with a significant hole behind the plate and very few options. Martin Maldonado could see an increase in playing time, but as a career .217/.291/.341 hitter in 934 plate appearances, he’s not well-suited for an everyday role. Looking down the pipeline a bit, the Brewers have Josmil Pinto and Manny Pina, each with some MLB experience under his belt, at the Triple-A level. and each is hitting well. However, Colorado Springs is an exceptionally hitter-friendly environment, and Pinto comes with noted defensive issues.
Beyond the lack of a long-term option on the brink of MLB readiness, the Brewers could simply look to opportunistically acquire Norris while his value is down. The 27-year-old was a well above-average contributor relative to his catching peers from 2013-15, but his bat has taken a huge step back in 2016, as he’s hitting just .193/.253/.360 on the year. Norris got off to a dreadful start and looked to have righted the ship in May and June, but his bat has gone dormant once again as of late. That, however, only figures to drive down the price, especially considering the fact that San Diego has top prospect Austin Hedges doing his best Mike Piazza impression in Triple-A El Paso (.352/.395/.684 with 17 homers in 210 plate appearances). The Padres would seem to be highly motivated to move Norris, who is earning a reasonable $2.925MM this season and controllable for another two years via the arbitration process.
One would have to imagine that the asking price on Norris has dropped considerably since Opening Day, and if that’s the case the Brewers could look to buy low in the hopes that a change of scenery and a relocation to the first hitter-friendly park of his career can get him back on track. Norris has, after all, spent his entire big league career in the offense-suppressing confines of O.Co Coliseum and Petco Park. But, even if Norris doesn’t ultimately rediscover the form that saw him bat .256/.333/.405 from 2013-15, he could provide a serviceable stopgap behind the plate while the Brewers trot out an inexperienced pitching staff in the midst of their rebuild.