Yesterday, Jon Heyman of Fanrag Sports reported that the Washington Nationals could release Derek Norris. Right now, they are in a no-win situation with the catcher
If you look at the Washington Nationals organization, one of the positions they have a lot of depth at is catcher. On Thursday, they designated Spencer Kieboom for assignment when they made the Joe Blanton signing official. Plus, they added Matt Wieters in free agency to be the Opening Day catcher.
With Wieters in the mix, that doesn’t leave much room on the roster for Derek Norris. Yesterday, Jon Heyman of Fanrag Sports reported that the Washington Nationals are trying to trade Norris and could release him if they don’t find a trade partner. Here’s more from Heyman:
"“The Washington Nationals are trying to trade catcher Derek Norris, but it’s unlikely anyone takes him in trade.“Not at $4 million,” one rival exec said. (h/t Heyman, Fanrag Sports)"
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As Heyman also wrote in his article, the Nats wouldn’t have to pay the full $4.2 million that is owed to Norris. If they release him by March 15, they would only have to pay 1/6th of the salary (30 days termination pay).
Norris was acquired before the Winter Meetings in a trade with the San Diego Padres for pitching prospect Pedro Avila. If the Nats do decide to release Norris outright, they would basically have given San Diego a pitching prospect for nothing.
Right now, there isn’t a fit for Norris, who should be getting regular playing time with another organization. In his first three games this spring, the 28-year-old is 3-for-6 with three RBI’s and hit a solo home run in Tuesday’s win over the Astros.
While Norris could be used as a platoon option with Wieters, that would leave Jose Lobaton as the odd man out. The organization can’t get rid of Lobaton because of the way he catches some of the pitchers in the starting rotation. The starters like pitching to him and he has become Gio Gonzalez’s personal catcher.
In addition, Norris won’t be going down to the minor leagues. The triple-A catcher right now could be Jhonatan Solano, who is having an impressive spring training. In his first five gamesof the spring, Solano is 8-for-10 with a pair of RBI’s. Both RBI’s came in yesterday’s 13-1 win over the Astros.
The problem that the Washington Nationals are having is that no one wants to pay Norris the salary that he is owed. If you look at three teams that could need a catcher (Angels, Brewers, White Sox), those are teams that don’t need to pay a catcher big money because they are in rebuilding mode.
So, if you look at this situation, it’s a no win situation for Mike Rizzo. There aren’t many teams that need a catcher and none that will pay Norris the $4.2 million he’s owed. He made the right decision in adding an upgrade at catcher in Wieters, but there just doesn’t seem to be a place for Norris at this point and time.