Tag: Bud Norris

Boston Red Sox’s Top Free-Agent, Trade Targets Post-New Year

With 2017 officially here and spring training just around the corner, the Boston Red Sox have the luxury of already having checked the big boxes on their offseason to-do list.

They didn’t need much to begin with but made a splash anyway by adding Chris Sale, Mitch Moreland and Tyler Thornburg and jettisoning Clay Buchholz. A Red Sox team that won the AL East in 2016 is now projected by FanGraphs to be the American League‘s best in 2017.

“If we started spring training right now, we would be content where we are,” Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said after Buchholz was traded, via Tim Britton of the Providence Journal.

However, we should stop short of seeing the 2017 Red Sox as a finished product. They do have lingering questions to answer, so let’s look at five free-agent and trade targets who could answer them.


1. Trevor Plouffe

As of now, the Red Sox have Pablo Sandoval penciled in at third base. It’s an upside play in light of his improved conditioning, but also a risky play in light of his disastrous 2015 and injury-shortened 2016.

Mark Polishuk of MLB Trade Rumors is right in thinking that third base insurance tops Boston’s remaining needs. The free-agent market has just the guy for it: Trevor Plouffe.

The Red Sox seem to already know this. Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald reported in late December that they have their eye on Plouffe, who spent his first seven seasons with the Minnesota Twins.

Beyond the fact he can likely be had on a cheap one-year contract, Plouffe’s appeal is his solid track record. The 30-year-old has been a league-average hitter in 723 major league games. He’s also played mostly passable defense at the hot corner.

If Sandoval were to prove up to the challenge he’s facing, Plouffe could also serve the Red Sox as a platoon bat. He’s a right-handed hitter with an .809 OPS against left-handed pitching. He also has experience at first base, left field, right field, second base and shortstop in addition to third base. 

Of course, Plouffe may prefer a more direct opportunity to be an everyday player on another team. That’s why the Red Sox need a Plan B, such as…


2. Adam Rosales

Plouffe isn’t the only right-handed utility type the Red Sox have on their radar. According to Rob Bradford of WEEI, Adam Rosales is on there as well.

As well he should be. Rosales isn’t so much a utility man as he is the utility man. He’s played at least 80 games at all four infield positions and also has some experience in left field and right field.

What Plouffe has that Rosales doesn’t is an offensive track record. Rosales is only a .227 career hitter with a .665 OPS, making him an easily below-average hitter.

However, Rosales is coming off a breakthrough in his age-33 season in 2016. He put up a career-high .814 OPS with 13 home runs for the San Diego Padres. He backed all this up with a 36.9 hard-hit percentage, a career best by plenty.

Rosales is certainly more appealing as a platoon player than as a possible everyday third baseman. But if he were to pick up where he left off on offense, he would have more than just a steady glove to offer while playing the hot corner.

The Red Sox need a Plan C in their search for a third base/utility type. He might be a long shot, but there’s one guy on the trade market who sticks out…


3. Hernan Perez

The Red Sox may have missed their shot at acquiring Hernan Perez. If they really wanted him, they may have found a way to include him in the trade that brought Thornburg from the Milwaukee Brewers for Travis Shaw.

But never say never.

Perez quietly found his stride in 2016. The 25-year-old played in 123 games and posted a .730 OPS with 13 homers and 34 stolen bases. He mostly played third base but also some right field, second base and first base.

Perez’s 2016 breakout didn’t end when the MLB season ended. He also starred (h/t Jim Goulart of Brewerfan.net, via Brew Crew Ball) in the Venezuelan winter league, winning the batting title and the Gold Glove at third base.

Perez’s rising star could make the Brewers want to hold on to him. But it also gives him trade value that could only go down in 2017. With Shaw locked in at third base and the other three positions on the infield also spoken for, Perez is only projected to be a utility guy.

The Red Sox would have to give up something (or somethings) of value to get Perez. But if they got him, they would get a younger, more controllable version of what Plouffe and Rosales could be for them—and with more upside, to boot.

Elsewhere, the Red Sox’s list of needs comes down to some low-risk starting pitching depth. That makes them a fit for…


4. Scott Feldman

The Red Sox traded Buchholz in part because it didn’t make sense to pay $13.5 million to a guy who wasn’t guaranteed a rotation spot.

With Buchholz gone, however, the Red Sox do have a slight depth issue in their rotation. Sale, Rick Porcello and David Price are an elite trio at the front. After them will be some combination of Eduardo Rodriguez, Steven Wright or Drew Pomeranz, each of whom has durability questions.

It wouldn’t hurt for the Red Sox to add another body to the mix. But their options are limited. They can only target guys who are in a position to accept an opportunity rather than a clearly defined role. And ideally, whoever they pick up could also be used in relief.

Hence, Scott Feldman.

The 33-year-old has been effective when healthy over the last four seasons, posting a 3.85 ERA. But he’s also no longer a lock to stay in anyone’s rotation anymore. He made just 18 starts in 2015 and found himself pitching mostly in relief in 2016.

This makes Feldman just the kind of guy the Red Sox are looking for: a veteran who could be signed for cheap as rotation insurance and could be stashed in the bullpen if no starting role materializes.

There’s one other free agent who matches this description…


5. Bud Norris

Bud Norris is a lot like Feldman. Once a semireliable starter, he’s fallen on hard times as he’s gotten older and is now in a position to try to latch on wherever he can.

Unlike Feldman, Norris hasn’t been effective when he’s been healthy in recent seasons. The 31-year-old has put up a 5.79 ERA since 2015, in which he’s started 30 games and appeared in relief in 43 others.

Norris still has some of the qualities that once made him a decent back-end starter, however. He’s maintaining his fastball velocity well, sitting in the 93-94 mph range. In a related story, he’s still a solid strikeout artist.

Norris is also a better bet than Feldman to stay healthy. Beyond being younger, Norris doesn’t have anything as serious as Feldman’s Tommy John surgery or microfracture knee surgery in his injury history.

These last two aren’t exactly sexy names, to be sure. But when a team’s to-do list is down to names like Feldman and Norris, that’s how you know that team is in good shape.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked. 

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Bud Norris Injury: Updates on Dodgers SP’s Back and Return

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Bud Norris left Sunday’s contest against the Arizona Diamondbacks with a back injury, per an announcement from the team.  

Continue for updates.

Norris Dealing with Muscle Tightness

Sunday, July 31

The Dodgers shared an image of the pitcher leaving the field Sunday: 

Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reported Norris will have to go through a bullpen session before knowing if he’ll be able to make his next scheduled start. 

Norris pitched a mere 0.1 innings and allowed an earned run and a walk before leaving Sunday’s contest.

Ross Stripling entered the game for Norris as a long reliever who can also start and eat up innings. Stripling is a potential candidate to shoulder more of the load until Norris is ready to return because of his ability to serve as a spot starter (eight starts in 2016) or in middle relief.

Los Angeles acquired Norris from the Atlanta Braves via trade in June after it placed ace Clayton Kershaw on the disabled list. What’s more, Alex Wood is on the 60-day DL, which increased the need to add someone such as Norris at the time.

Entering play Sunday, Norris had 28 appearances for the Dodgers and Braves this season with a 4.27 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 92 strikeouts in 99 innings. He struggled in 2015 (6.72 ERA for the Baltimore Orioles and San Diego Padres) but was an effective starter in 2014 with a 3.65 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in 28 starts for Baltimore.

Norris’ injury is exacerbated by the fact the Dodgers can ill afford any more setbacks in their starting rotation.

Three-time Cy Young winner Kershaw is suffering from a herniated disk, and the team is unsure if or when he will return for the 2016 campaign. With Wood also out, Shaikin said the Dodgers are expecting Brett Anderson to make two additional rehab starts before joining the team.

It raises the question whether they will attack Monday’s non-waiver trade deadline with even more aggression following Norris’ injury. Shaikin said Sunday’s setback means “additional urgency” for the search.

Los Angeles is two games back of the San Francisco Giants in the National League West. However, the Giants are 3-7 in their last 10 games, which has allowed Los Angeles to make up some ground despite the injury concerns. The Dodgers were 4-2 in their previous six contests before Sunday’s game.

Unless the Dodgers acquire anyone before the deadline, they will likely rely on pitchers such as Stripling, Kenta Maeda and Scott Kazmir until the injury woes subside.

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Bud Norris to Braves: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

After spending the first part of this offseason trading players, the Atlanta Braves have added a pitcher to the mix by signing free agent Bud Norris

The Braves confirmed the one-year major league deal with Norris on Twitter. According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, Norris will make $2.5 million in 2016.

Norris isn’t the free-agent splash Braves fans may be seeking, but he perfectly fits what the front office is trying to do in 2016. The right-hander appeared in 38 games with the Baltimore Orioles and San Diego Padres last season, posting a 6.72 ERA with 71 strikeouts and 15 homers allowed in 83 innings. 

The 30-year-old is a low-risk investment who is one year removed from posting a 3.65 ERA and a 1.216 WHIP in 165.1 innings for Baltimore during its American League East championship run. 

Atlanta is looking long-term with all of its moves this winter. The franchise will be moving into a new park in 2017 and wants to build up its farm system to be ready for that, which will make next season particularly hard.     

The Braves traded star shortstop Andrelton Simmons to the Los Angeles Angels earlier this offseason after moving Craig Kimbrel, Justin Upton, Alex Wood and Jose Peraza in the last 12 months. 

Given the Braves’ need for rotation depth behind Shelby Miller and Julio Teheran, assuming neither of those pitchers is dealt, Norris can provide exactly what they are looking for. He’s versatile enough to start or relieve and can eat innings. 

There’s also the added benefit that if Norris has a bounce-back season, Atlanta can flip him in July for a useful prospect. 

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Bud Norris Injury: Updates on Orioles Pitcher’s Groin and Return

The Baltimore Orioles have been a pleasant surprise in the American League East thus far, but the club will have to replace one of its more dependable starting pitchers with Bud Norris hitting the disabled list. 

According to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, Norris tweaked his groin during a bullpen session Wednesday. 

Connolly also noted that Norris wasn’t happy about landing on the disabled list but understood the proactive approach for the benefit of himself and the team. 

Norris came to Baltimore in a deal with the Houston Astros last July and was inconsistent down the stretch. He posted a 4.80 ERA and allowed 61 hits in 50.2 innings, failing to ignite the Orioles’ pitching staff in ways the team hoped. 

However, this season has been a big improvement for the 29-year-old right-hander. He’s still giving up a lot of home runs (10 in 87 innings), but he has cut his hit rate down to 7.6 per nine innings and has the best walk rate of his career (2.9 per nine innings). 

There is a positive spin on this for the Orioles. Norris’ absence will allow the team to get a longer look at top prospect Kevin Gausman, who has been impressive in four starts with a 2.74 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 23 innings. 

If Norris is able to return after 15 days, while Gausman remains on his current trajectory, the Orioles will find themselves with more starting pitching depth as they enter the second half of the season. 


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Bud Norris Trade Rumors: Breaking Down Houston Pitcher’s Potential Destinations

As the 2013 MLB trade deadline approaches, one of the players most commonly associated with a potential trade is Houston Astros pitcher Bud Norris. As a strong right-handed starter who can contribute in the middle of a rotation, Norris certainly could attract a contender.

The question is, where might he up and how would he fit?

According to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com, three teams have been identified as potential suitors. Those teams are the Arizona Diamondbacks, Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates, who all have postseason dreams and a need for pitching.

Per Jeff Passan of CBS Sports, Norris won’t be in Houston for much longer.

McTaggart reports that Norris has been scratched from his start on Tuesday, July 30.

It’s hardly surprising that Houston, a team far from postseason contention, would be willing to move a quality pitcher in his prime. Thus far in 2013, the 28-year-old is 6-9 with a 3.93 ERA and 90 strikeouts in 21 appearances.

The belief around the league, however, is that Norris will see significantly better results with an upgraded defense and more run support—something each of the teams interested in him would provide.


Arizona Diamondbacks

W-L Record: 54-51 (2nd in NL West)


It’s no secret that the Diamondbacks are looking to add arms. Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston reports that they’re the front-runners to land Jake Peavy. Should that plan fall through, however, Arizona’s commitment to pursuing Norris makes a powerful statement.

The Diamondbacks are not satisfied with the aces they already have and believe they can make a real push for the postseason—and they can.

Arizona is led by 24-year-old All-Star Patrick Corbin, who is 12-2 with an ERA of 2.24, a WHIP of 0.99 and 123 strikeouts. Behind the lefty is Wade Miley, who is 7-8 with a 3.86 ERA, having lowered that number in nine of his past 11 starts.

Beyond them, there really isn’t much to say.

Trevor Cahill is injured, but even if he does return, he’d bring a record of 3-10 with a 4.66 ERA to the table. Ian Kennedy, who won 36 combined games in 2011 and 2012, is 3-7 with a dreadful 5.35 ERA.

Even still, Arizona is within 2.5 games of the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West.

Norris may not fare much better than Miley, but if he’s able to add a stabilizing arm in front of Cahill and Kennedy, Arizona would reap the benefits. Paul Goldschmidt is playing at a superstar level offensively, and the Diamondbacks’ bullpen has lethal arms.

It wouldn’t be a World Series clincher, but adding Norris would be a major step in the right direction.


Baltimore Orioles

W-L Record: 58-48 (3rd in AL East)


The Orioles have the tall task of chasing the hottest teams in baseball as the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays trade the AL East lead. As the most powerful team in baseball—Baltimore ranks No. 1 with a .443 slugging percentage—they certainly have a way to get back into the race.

It’s all about adding reliable arms to a less-than-dependable rotation.

The Orioles are 20th or worse in quality starts, WHIP, opponent batting average and team ERA. Wei-Yin Chen, Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez have been very strong for Baltimore, but no other player with at least five starts has an ERA lower than 5.12.

That’s what you call urgency.

Norris would be a welcome addition. His ERA would float somewhere between 3.70 and 4.00. That may not be an elite number, but it’s a substantial upgrade over what Baltimore currently puts forth.

Optimism tells us Norris may actually improve with a move to the AL East, as Baltimore’s defense would offer far more support than Houston’s.

The key here is that Baltimore has a core of Chris Davis, Adam Jones, Manny Machado and Nick Markakis to support Norris. Even when a game gets out of hand, the Orioles can get back into it with their bats.

That would offer a form of confidence that Norris hasn’t felt in quite some time.


Pittsburgh Pirates

W-L Record: 62-42 (2nd in NL Central)


If the season ended yesterday, the Pirates would earn a wild-card spot in the 2013 MLB playoffs. They’re tied for the most wins in the National League, sitting just .5 games behind the division-leading St. Louis Cardinals.

Did we mention that Pittsburgh has turned some of the most inconsistent arms in MLB into the most dominant pitching staff in baseball? Their rankings of No. 1 in team ERA and opponent batting average supports that statement.

Why can’t Norris be the next player to break out in Pittsburgh?

The Pirates are led by a veteran cast of A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano and Wandy Rodriguez, along with 25-year-old breakout star Jeff Jocke. Those names suggest bottom-10 potential, but pitching coach Ray Searage has worked absolute magic.

With Jason Grilli converting 30 saves in 31 opportunities, this team truly is the all-unbelievable team.

It’s worth noting that Norris has posted a 2.33 ERA at PNC Park since 2011, playing his division rival multiple times per year. It’s also important to factor in that Norris was teammates with Rodriguez for three-and-a-half seasons and Mark Melancon for one-and-a-half.

It’s unclear where Norris will end up, but Pittsburgh certainly sounds like the most ideal destination.

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Pirates Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz on Bucs’ Pursuit of Players for Stretch Run

The Pittsburgh Pirates trail the St. Louis Cardinals by just half a game in the National League Central and they have a 4.5-game lead over the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Wild Card race. The Bucs have every right to be thinking big down the stretch.

With those high hopes comes the reality that the team must seriously consider tightening up the roster for the final two months of the season.

Pittsburgh has been active on the rumor scene and deals could be coming soon. Here’s a look at the latest news:


Alex Rios Could Be the Right Fit

David Kaplan of CSN Chicago tweeted that the Bucs and Chicago White Sox are seemingly getting close to a deal that would land Alex Rios in Pittsburgh.

Rios has a no-trade clause but is apparently willing to waive it to play for the Pirates. He is having a very solid season for a bad White Sox team. He’s hitting .272 with 12 home runs, 49 RBI and he’s also stolen 22 bases.

Rios would be a definite upgrade over the young Jose Tabata in right field.

A Pirates outfield of Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen and Rios would be solid. We’ll see if the Bucs and White Sox can close the deal.


Giancarlo Stanton Is a Long Shot

While Rios may be the more practical option for the Pirates, the team is apparently still sending out feelers on a player who could make a bigger splash down the road.

Per Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Pirates are among the teams that have been regularly checking on the availability of Giancarlo Stanton from the Miami Marlins.

Up to now they have been turned away, but a change of scenery could ignite Stanton’s bat. He’s struggled this year in a lineup that has been monumentally horrible. He’s hitting .262 with 13 home runs this year, but at 23 years old, Stanton still looks like he’ll be one of the majors’ premier power hitters over the next 10 years.

Prying Stanton away from the budget-conscious Marlins is worth exploring.


Bud Norris Could Be On the Way

It seems as though the Houston Astros are close to dealing starting pitcher Bud Norris. Per Dayn Perry of CBS Sports, Norris has been scratched from his scheduled start.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports tweets he expects Norris to be moved soon and names the Pirates as a likely landing spot.

The 28-year-old is only 6-9 with an ERA of 3.93, but in a pitching-starved market, he’s become a fairly hot commodity. If the Pirates can walk away with Rios and Norris, they will have strengthened their ballclub.


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Players That Contending Teams Hope Will Be Available at MLB Trade Deadline

Earlier today, I named seven players guaranteed to be traded by the July 31st deadline. Not surprisingly, all seven will be free agents after the season and play on teams that aren’t in playoff contention now and aren’t expected to be a month from now. 

On the flip side, there is an entire different group of players that might become available if their teams either fall out of the playoff race or fail to make a run to get back to within striking distance. Then there are the rebuilding teams, such as the Astros and Marlins, with valuable trade chips who are under team control for a few more seasons. Trading them could make sense if a particular organization feels that the return will help expedite the rebuilding process. 

Which teams will be left standing as playoff contenders in late July is still to be determined, but it’s likely that many of them will be asking about the availability of these six players in hopes of acquiring them for the stretch run and beyond. 

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San Francisco Giants: 3 Players They Should Pursue at 2013 MLB Trade Deadline

Since the Barry Bonds era came to a close, the San Francisco Giants have been winning games because of top-notch starting pitching.

However, this season, it’s been different. San Francisco’s rotation has been horrendous, and the bullpen is falling apart. Surprisingly, the Giants are 35-31 and right in the thick of things in the NL West, but if they don’t make improvements soon, they’ll fall behind.

Who could help the Giants stay in the playoff picture? Here are three players the Giants should target at the 2013 MLB trade deadline.

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Projecting the Houston Astros 2012 Depth Chart

2011 has been a year to forget for the Houston Astros. The only good thing that has come out of 2011 is a good look at some new, young players and the No. 1 draft pick in next year’s draft. Next year’s team is expected to be even younger than it is this year, with few veterans, returning sophomores and some new rookies. Although the team will almost definitely not be in contention next year, it still shouldn’t be underestimated. It carries a lot of young, promising and enthusiastic players who are eager to win.

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Houston Astros: 10 Future Stars To Be Excited About in 2011 and Beyond

Although the Houston Astros have spent a majority of the 2010 season in the cellar of the National League Central, there are plenty of reasons to be excited about the team’s future.

Today, we’re going to look at 15 solid reasons to get pumped up about next year’s Astros squad.

Let’s begin by taking a look at five honorable mention candidates before quickly narrowing down to the top 10 players on Houston’s young and talented depth chart with the highest probability of becoming future MLB stars.

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