TUESDAY: Norris’ deal comes with $250K in incentives for 50, 75, 100 and 125 days on the big league roster, tweets Jon Heyman of FanRag. He’ll also collect $250K if the Rays trade him.
SUNDAY: To make room for Norris, the Rays have placed right-hander Kevin Gadea on the 60-day DL with elbow tendinitis, according to Topkin. If healthy, the Rays would have returned the Rule 5 pick to the Mariners (Twitter links).
SATURDAY: The Rays have officially announced the signing. A corresponding move to create a 40-man roster spot will come later today, Topkin tweets, with the simplest scenario being that Ramos would be placed on the 60-day DL.
FRIDAY, 3:40pm: Norris will earn $1.2MM and can add another $800K via incentives, Topkin tweets. That’ll be on top of the $688K or so he’s owed by the Nationals under the arb arrangement he had reached at the outset of his short-lived stint in D.C.
1:28pm: Free agent catcher Derek Norris will sign with the Rays, reports Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports. Norris chose the Rays over four other suitors (Twitter link). It’ll be a one-year deal, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The Rays could control Norris for two years, though, as he’ll be arbitration eligible for the last time in 2018.
The Rockies and Cardinals had also been mentioned recently in connection to Norris, who reached the open market when the Nationals released him March 15. That came after a failed attempt to trade Norris, who would have been due $4.2MM. Instead, he’ll presumably earn a significantly lower salary with the Rays. Norris picked Tampa Bay over other teams because he expects to receive more playing time there than he would have elsewhere, according to Brown.
The Rays signed a high-profile backstop, Wilson Ramos, in free agency over the winter, but after suffering a torn ACL last season, he probably won’t debut until May or June. Even when he is healthy enough to return, Ramos could break back in as a designated hitter. Thus, as opposed to going with the unexciting duo of Luke Maile and Curt Casali as their primary catchers, the Rays are adding Norris, who’s easily the most proven of the three.
The 28-year-old Norris isn’t without his flaws, having batted an ugly .186/.255/.328 with a career-worst 30.3 percent strikeout rate in 458 plate appearances with the Padres last season. However, Norris isn’t far removed from slashing a palatable .246/.336/.392 in 982 PAs with the A’s and Padres from 2012-15. Norris is also coming off his second straight season in which both Baseball Prospectus and StatCorner assigned him plus pitch-framing marks behind the plate. That surely added to his appeal from the Rays’ standpoint, as the organization is known to value framing.
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