The Washington Nationals just could not help themselves. With free agent catcher Matt Wieters still sitting on the open market in late February, the club decided to hand him a two-year deal 21 million dollars. With the two-year pact, Wieters will immediately step into the starting catcher’s role for the club.
The Nats had been linked to the former Baltimore Oriole for a good majority of the Winter. But there had been one factor that had seemed to be holding the team back from making Wieters a legitimate offer. And that is the presence of catcher Derek Norris.
Norris, who started his career in the Washington organization before being shipped to Oakland a few years back, made his return to D.C. this offseason in a trade with the San Diego Padres. Upon that acquisition, Norris, despite a down 2016 season, was penciled in as the lead man behind the dish.[Kenny]
But this recent move complicates matters for Norris. He is set to make a little over four million dollars in 2017 and the Nats are not exactly going to want to pay that much for a backup. They also Jose Lobaton on the roster who is set to make just over one and a half million dollars, making Norris expendable.
When the team made the deal with San Diego back on December 2nd, all they gave up was a 20-year old pitcher named Pedro Avila, who is still in single-A ball. So their asking price is not going to be very high in a potential deal. As long as they can get back a player with some upside down in the lower levels of the minors, they will likely move on from Norris.
So who are some potential matches on a trade for the 28-year-old catcher? Here are three possible teams who could engage in talks with the Nationals.
Tampa Bay Rays
Like the Nats, the Rays were one of the teams linked to Wieters throughout the Winter. The team did sign Wilson Ramos this offseason, but he is not going to be ready until about mid-season. Even upon his return, he is no lock to step behind the plate. Ramos may need to serve as the DH upon his return, leaving Curt Casali and Luke Maile as the main catchers.
Neither of those men are exactly great with the bat. Casali hit below .200 a season ago, while Maile was at .227 in a small sample size. Since the Rays are always on the hunt for some extra offense. Norris would do just that, as he would be replacing this platoon behind the dish. Since he won’t come at a great cost, Tampa Bay will most certainly be in the mix for his services.
Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red have high expectations going into 2017. Coming off a season in which they won the American League East, Boston is doing anything it can to retain that title. This Winter they went and traded for ace Chris Sale, which is arguably the biggest deal of the Winter. They also added Mitch Moreland, who is going to do his best to replace the retired David Ortiz.
But the club does still have a few weak spots. One of those positions happens to be behind the dish. As things stand right now, there is a competition between Sandy Leon, Christian Vazquez, and Blake Swihart. With a three-man competition already, the need for Norris is not exactly a must.
But none of those three men are set to make much money in 2017 and Norris has a higher upside than all three. While Swihart has potential with the bat, he also had his fair share of questions in his young career. If the Sox see Norris as a better option than him, they could certainly entertain a deal for Norris, given the low cost of a deal.
Los Angeles Angels
Like Tampa and Washington, the Angels were surprisingly in the mix for Wieters. The main reason was the cheap price the team thought Wieters would come at as he continued to sit on the market. Obviously, that price eventually got too high for the Halos. But Norris is making about six million dollars less than Wieters, making this an interesting pairing.
We know the Angels are willing to consider an upgrade behind the plate. With Martin Maldanado set to start, this should come as little surprise. Maldanado is better served as a backup, making Los Angeles an ideal spot for Norris. If he were to get dealt out West, where he has played his entire career (between Oakland and San Diego), he should be given the chance to prove himself once more.
As he enters his prime age of 28 season, he is certainly a candidate for a bounceback. Given the Angels will be in need of some offense, this is the type of low-risk, high reward move they could greatly benefit from. He will not cost much, in both prospects and money, plus he has the talent to be an above average catcher.
There is no turning back now for the Nationals now. While some, like myself, may not see the need for Wieters in Washington, he is now a member of the team. So Norris is extremely likely to be moved. So where do you see him landing? Tell us in the comments!