The San Diego Padres have shifted gears and are finally prepared to move players into a sort of rebuilding process. The team will not be gutted, but some of the more expensive players will be moved to make room for young talent that is ready to be showcased. The outfield will surely see a remodel of sorts as Jon Jay, Melvin Upton Jr., and Matt Kemp make roughly one-third of the Padres 2016 salary. With Hunter Renfroe, Alex Dickerson, Jabari Blash and Manuel Margot in Triple-A and Travis Jankowski already with the team, the clock is ticking on the current starting outfielders. The kids are ready to play.
The outfield is one situation, but another that seems inevitable and needs to be addressed is the catching situation. I’m just gonna say it. A Derek Norris trade is coming. It just is. You cannot deny it. With the Padres coaching staff gaining more and more confidence in Chritian Bethancourt behind the plate, Norris will be dealt. Austin Hedges has also been on fire since returning from hand surgery. The catcher has gone 14-40 with three home runs since returning from surgery and went 3-for-4 last night (Tuesday) with a grand slam. He has proven to be healthy and with Hedges swinging a confident bat, it is only a matter of time before he is back in San Diego.
The Padres could choose to deal Austin Hedges, but Norris just has more value and is making more money. Teams looking for a veteran catcher will want Norris as he provides stability, while a young Hedges could still be a few seasons away from really contributing at the major league level. The signs just point to a Norris trade coming. No matter how you look at it. The team has to make a move. Having three catchers that can easily start at the major league level right now, does nothing for a rebuilding team. They need to take advantage of the fact they have an excess of talent in an area that is really weak throughout baseball. Derek Norris has value. Paging A.J. Preller.
It’s the same issue with the outfield. It makes no sense to have a losing season with veteran outfielders while having young players who are ready just sitting at the Triple-A level. Renfore, Dickerson and company need to play at the highest level. The team needs to evaluate these guys against the highest caliber pitchers who make constant adjustments. Having them tear up Triple-A pitching is not beneficial at this point. Hedges is tearing it up offensively now as well and the team really needs to see if he can perform at the major league level. He does nothing for the San Diego Padres in El Paso. The evaluation of him must be at the major league level to be accurate.
Derek Norris provides a toughness and grittiness that you desire from a catcher. That is something you acnnot deny. He regulates the locker room and provides excellent leadership skills. It’s tough to write this. Its tough knowing that he should be dealt. As a fan of this team, they must move their valuable pieces and continue to restock the farm system. Losing Norris will certainly be tough, but with Bethancourt and Hedges ready to step in, it is well worth the gamble. The package of prospects the Padres should get in return for Norris should be decent, it really should be. He is making $2.925 million this season and is not due for free agency until 2019. That is a decent price for an offensive catcher.
The Texas Rangers and Houston Astros make the most sense at the moment. The Rangers are a mostly complete team and the addition of Norris could be huge for them. The Astros started the season very slowly but have now reached the .500 mark and Norris could provide some nice veteran leadership for the young team. A.J. Preller is surely pursuing all angles and Derek Norris is someone multiple teams are scouting. There are many potential suitors and once the trade deadline gets closer, offers should get way more serious.
The emergence of Bethancourt and a healthy productive Austin Hedges should easily soften the loss of Norris. The next few months will be huge for the future of the San Diego Padres. The team did well in the draft to acquire a high-ceiling group of prospects who can help fairly soon. Cal Quantril and Eric Lauer are both collegiate pitchers who should ascend through the Padres minor league system. Adding them to a very talented young group of pitchers quickly replenished a once barren farm system. Logan Allen, Jacob Nix, Jean Cosme, Austin Smith and Enyel De Los Santos are quality young pitchers, but each is a couple of years away from competing at the major league level. Dinelson Lamet and Michael Kelly are closer to major league service time and each pitcher has performed well this season. You can really see the future of the Padres pitching staff taking shape. Trading Norris and further solidifying the pitching staff or acquiring young offensive talent is a good thing. Padres fans must realize this. Trades are coming and the backstop will most certainly be one of the players the Padres moves. Enjoy Norrisaurasrex while you can. Oh and please don’t shoot the messenger.