The Washington Nationals have their new catcher as they acquire Derek Norris from the San Diego Padres
Tonight, the Washington Nationals have traded for their new starting catcher as they have seemed to move on from Wilson Ramos. They have acquired Derek Norris from the San Diego Padres in exchange for 19-year-old right-handed pitching prospect Pedro Avila:
Norris was selected by the Washington Nationals in the fourth round of the 2007 MLB Draft out of Goddard High School in Kansas. Four years later, The now 27-year-old (28 in February) was traded to the Oakland A’s along with A.J. Cole, Tommy Milone, and Brad Peacock in exchange for left-handed starter Gio Gonzalez before even being called up to the Major Leagues. He is under team control for the next two seasons.
During this time with the A’s, Norris made the American League All-Star team in 2014 when he hit ten home runs and drove in 55 runs. After that season, Oakland traded him to the Padres for pitcher Jesse Hahn.
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Last season with the Padres, Norris only had a .186 batting average, but he had 14 home runs for the second straight season and drove in 42 runs. 12 of his 14 home runs came in the first half of the season as he got 114 at-bats over the final three months of the season.
Right now, the Washington Nationals have three catchers if you include Jose Lobaton and Pedro Severino. By adding Norris into the mix, the Nats can choose to start Severino at triple-A Syracuse if they feel he needs more time to develop.
As a defender, Norris threw out just 21% of baserunners last season, which was a drop off from his strong season in 2015 when he threw out 34% of baserunners trying to steal. Plus, he has had 21 passed balls over the last two seasons. (All defensive stats courtesy of Baseball Reference).
In exchange for Norris, the Padres get back Avila, who was the 23rd ranked prospect in the Washington Nationals farm system according to MLB Pipeline. With the Hagerstown Suns last season, Avila went 7-7 with a 3.48 ERA in 20 starts and had 92 strikeouts (fourth most on the Hagerstown staff).
When you look at this deal, this appears to be a good move by the Washington Nationals. Norris comes back to the Nats organization and is under a team friendly contract as opposed to trying to spend big money on free agent catcher Matt Wieters. For the Padres, it allows them to give Austin Hedges regular playing time behind the plate in 2017.
Now that the catcher position seems to be decided before the Winter Meetings next week, the Washington Nationals can now turn their attention to either acquiring another outfielder to move Trea Turner over to shortstop, a top of the line closer, or add to an already strong rotation.