The Nationals have released catcher Derek Norris, the team announced and Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post first reported (via Twitter). Norris had been placed on waivers recently, but the Nats were unable to find a taker.
By releasing Norris now, the Nats will avoid the bulk of the $4.2MM arbitration salary the team had agreed to with the veteran catcher. Still, D.C. will owe him thirty days of pay, which amounts to around $688K. The organization will chalk that up to the cost of insurance, as the addition of Norris covered the club while it explored other options all winter.
As it turned out, the Nationals signed Matt Wieters in the middle of camp, which made Norris expendable. Washington will go with a combination of Wieters and Jose Lobaton at the major league level, with Pedro Severino working on his hitting at Triple-A and providing depth.
Norris has fallen off at the plate recently, with his strikeout and walk numbers plummeting from their once-excellent levels. On the other hand, he has improved his standing behind the dish, where he now grades well from a framing perspective.
It stands to reason that there’ll be pursuers for the veteran, though odds are he won’t make as much as he had been lined up for. The Rays are said to have some interest already. And it wouldn’t be surprising to hear of a pursuit from the Rockies, particularly with Tom Murphy sidelined, or organizations such as the Angels and Reds.