Padres Editorial: Derek Norris Possible Landing Spots

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Credit: AP Photo
Credit: AP Photo

With the offensive emergence of Austin Hedges, the days of Derek Norris in a San Diego Padres uniform appear to be coming to an end. The gritty catcher has done all that has been asked of him, but the game of baseball can be a brutal sport. The business side of the game often rules and the fact Hedges is younger and cheaper speaks volumes to the Padres.

Trading a starting catcher in the middle of a season is a very tricky thing though. Derek Norris has built a relationship with every Padres pitcher. He and the pitchers trust each other and that feeling cannot easily be conjured on a new prospective team. Any team acquiring Norris would be doing so with the intention that he be their everyday catcher. A new team would need to give Norris a crash course on the staff. He would have much work to do and there is always the thought that he and his new staff fail to gel right away. That is a huge risk for a potential new team and that in itself may be a major delay is moving Norris.

In my opinion once Jonathan Lucroy is dealt from the Milwaukee Brewers, the market on Norris should heat up considerably. Lucroy is the obvious better catcher between the two, but Norris is no slouch either. His offensive numbers are down this season but at the age of 27 and not due for free agency until 2019, he still has great value. Norris is a gritty old-school type catcher who is tough as nails and refuses to take days off. He is a grinder and a ball player in every sense of the word.

Austin Hedges is just younger at 22 and not due for free agency until 2022 at the earliest. Hedges has a Gold-Glove caliber glove with a blossoming bat. He is just too young with too much upside to let go. The Padres surely want Hedges to help their young staff grow. There are tons of young arms from the ages of 17-20 in the Padres farm system. When they start to trickle their way to the major leagues the Padres wisely want a defensive minded catcher to help guide them.

Austin Hedges fits that mold perfectly and with that Norris is definitely expendable. But whom would want the veteran catcher and what kind of return can you expect for Derek Norris? He still has two and a half years under his current contract so it’s not like he is a rental. The Padres should obtain a decent return for Norris. Again, though they might have to wait for the Brewers to deal Lucroy to get top dollar.

Texas Rangers

These two teams really do match up well in a potential deal. Andrew Cashner makes sense for the Rangers as does Ryan Buchter. Surprisingly there has been little to nothing reported about the two teams talking trade. We already know the Rangers are shopping Jurickson Profar and Joey Gallo and both definitely meet the Padres needs. It remains to be seen if the Padres have the talent for either prospect though as they will not come cheaply. Norris alone would not get the job done, nor will the addition of Cashner in a deal. It would take Austin Hedges to get discussions going and I do not believe the Padres are prepared to part with the catcher. A deal for Norris doesn’t remain out of the realm of possibility though as the Rangers have two average catchers on their current 25-man roster.

Robinson Chirinos and Bobby Wilson fail to provide much offensively and Norris would be a great addition for the Rangers. The Rangers have some prospects who interest the team and are not named Profar or Gallo. Yohander Mendez a left-handed pitcher makes sense. He is 21 and currently in Double-A. The starter is 9-2 on the year with a 2.71 ERA in 17 starts. He throws strikes and changes speeds really well for a young pitcher. He looks to be a decent prospect. Travis Demeritte and Andy Ibanez also make sense for the Padres. Demeritte is 21 and has hit 25 homers on the year in high A-Ball. Ibanez is a Cuban national whom the Padres targeted last season before he signed with the Rangers. The return for Norris should be decent since he is under control for the next 2 1/2 years, but the Rangers appear to be play games hardball.

Houston Astros

The Astros are presently battling it out for first place in the American League West with the Rangers. They also have a catching need, all though the team seems pretty comfortable with the combination of Evan Gattis and Jason Castro. Gattis is a great offensive force when he is healthy, but his defense does lack from time to time. Norris could step into his role as the right handed compliment to Castro and Gattis could easily DH for the Astros. Norris would provide the Astros a long-term option behind the dish. Something that both Castro and Gattis seem to lack. The Stros’ have a decent farm system and there could be some options for the Padres that help both teams.

Joe Musgrove would be a great pick up for the Padres. The former San Diego Prep athlete is currently 7-4 on the year with a 2.74 ERA in Triple-A. He is major league ready and the Padres could use some arms at the upper minor league level. Tony Kemp and Colin Moran also make sense for the Padres. Moran is a third baseman who has no spot on the Astros team. He is 23 and in Triple-A where he is currently hitting .265 with five homers. He has a decent left-handed stroke and might be useful to the Friars. Kemp is a super-utility type player who could add some depth to the Padres upper minor league level. He is 24 and made his debut with the Astros this season. Norris could help the Astros, but are they willing to pay the Padres asking price?


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