The Reds announced Monday that they’ve released left-handed reliever Daniel Norris, who’d been in camp on a minor league deal. Cincinnati also optioned outfielder Stuart Fairchild to Triple-A Louisville and reassigned righty Silvino Bracho and infielder/outfielder Alejo Lopez to minor league camp.
It’s been a tough spring for Norris, who’s appeared in seven games with the Reds but been tagged for six runs (five earned) in 6 2/3 innings of work. Opponents have collected a dozen hits against the veteran southpaw, and he’s shown some troubling command issues as well. Norris has walked seven of his 40 opponents and plunked another three.
The 29-year-old Norris was once regarded as one of the top prospects in all of baseball, even headlining the Tigers’ return for David Price (alongside Matthew Boyd) when trading him to the Blue Jays at the 2015 trade deadline. He’s shown promise at varying points — 3.55 ERA in 129 1/3 frames with the Tigers from 205-16 — but Norris has also been slowed by injuries and a frightening battle with thyroid cancer, which he thankfully overcame.
Norris split the 2021-22 seasons between the Cubs, Tigers and Brewers but turned in a sub-par 5.68 ERA in 115 2/3 innings during that time. He was far more impressive with Detroit during the shortened 2020 season, logging a 3.25 ERA with a 24.1% strikeout rate and strong 6% walk rate in 27 2/3 innings out of the bullpen.
Overall, Norris has a 4.71 ERA in 569 2/3 big league innings. He’s fanned just under a quarter of his opponents over the past three seasons — an improvement from his early-career levels — but those increased punchouts have came with an increase in walks as well. Norris walked hitters at an 8.6% clip through 2019 but has issued free passes at a 10.7% rate over the past three years. He’ll look for opportunities elsewhere, and while teams in need of a left-handed reliever could well have interest in him as a depth piece, he might have to take another minor league deal and pitch his way onto a big league roster with a strong showing in Triple-A.
As far as the Reds’ bullpen is concerned, Norris’ release could bode well for lefty Alex Young. The former D-backs and Giants hurler is also in camp on a non-roster deal, but he’s had a much stronger showing, allowing just two runs with a 9-to-2 K/BB ratio in eight innings. Either Young or waiver claim Bennett Sousa would give manager David Bell a second lefty alongside Reiver Sanmartin. Sousa is already on the 40-man roster.