Norris has been impressive in his first season in the AL with a 3.63 ERA and 12 quality starts.
The Astros certainly do not have to trade starting pitcher Bud Norris, who is under team control through 2015. They're not trying to cut salary any more than they already have. Their 2013 payroll is $26,105, 600, according to Baseball Prospectus, and the 28-year-old Norris accounts for $3 million of that in his first season as an arbitration-eligible player.
His salary will rise each of the next two seasons but not to an amount that would force the Astros to want to deal him now. Whether they have interest in trading him now all depends on how strongly they believe that he's at peak value and won't ever net them a better return than they'll get this month.
The Astros will set the price tag high on the right-hander, who has a 3.63 ERA and 12 quality starts in his first American League season. If a team steps up and makes an offer that general manager Jeff Luhnow can't refuse, Norris will be off to pitch in a pennant race for some contending team. If not, then he'll finish out the season in Houston and the rumors will resurface again in the offseason.
All has been quiet on the Norris trade front since early in the season but there's a good chance that rumors and speculation will increase as we get closer to the non-waiver trade deadline on July 31.
How is a fan supposed to keep up with it all?
That's where B/R comes in—we'll be bringing you the most up-to-the-minute rumblings about the Astros' most valuable trade chip, along with analysis and everything else that comes with it. The best part—everything will be right here, so there's no risk of missing a juicy rumor that just broke.
*This will be updated on a regular basis—often multiple times per day—so while the post date will always show as July 12, simply click to the next slide to see the latest rumors and rumblings about Norris as the Astros decide whether to cash in early on a valuable trade chip.*
July 30 Update
While a deal hasn't been completed, the Astros have scratched Bud Norris from today's start and are motivated to move him, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Brian McTaggart says three teams are interested in the 28-year-old Norris, including the Orioles, who he was set to face today. Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun wrote about the Orioles' interest earlier today.
Passan speculates that the Pirates could be a potential destination with the return being centered around 6-foot-7 right-hander Tyler Glasnow, a 19-year-old who is dominating in Low-A ball (92.1 IP, 47 H, 50 BB, 128 K), since they won't part with center field prospect Gregory Polanco. Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus calls Glasnow a "Top 50 talent in MiLB" and can't see the Pirates dealing him for Norris.
The Astros could part with Norris if the Red Sox parted with De La Rosa and another very good prospect.
July 19 Update
The multiple years of team control is likely one of the main reasons why the Sox covet Norris as opposed to a rental like Garza, who would cost them at least one of their top prospects. Garza also wouldn't be eligible for a qualifying offer that would secure them a compensatory draft pick if he signed elsewhere in the offseason because he'd be switching teams mid-season.
While the price on Norris is still high, the Sox might be able to land him for two very good prospects that aren't the best in the system—Jackie Bradley, Jr. or Xander Bogaerts—but still quality prospects that would rate much higher in another organization.
Starting pitcher Rubby De La Rosa (3.53 ERA, 63.2 IP, 50 H, 30 BB, 67 K in 17 Triple-A starts) and outfielder Bryce Brentz (.808 OPS, 16 HR in Triple-A) would likely be part of that second tier of prospects that could interest Houston.
It's possible that Clay Buchholz's slow recovery from a neck injury has intensified the Sox's search for a starting pitcher. But adding a starter who is under contract in 2014 would certainly cause a logjam with all five of Boston's current starters set to return and several others in the upper minors just about ready to help out. Of course, that wouldn't be a bad problem to have heading into the offseason.
July 18 Update
With the Cubs reportedly asking teams for their final offers on starting pitcher Matt Garza, a team like the Rangers might go to their backup plan soon if they aren't the winning bidder. Texas' plan B, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, is Norris. Passan also names the Blue Jays, Dodgers, Giants and Pirates as Norris suitors.
The Rangers, who are two games out in the AL West heading into the second half, currently have a rotation that includes Derek Holland, rookie Martin Perez and journeyman Ross Wolf with Yu Darvish and Alexi Ogando slated to return from the disabled list early next week. Even if they can remain healthy and Colby Lewis can come back strong from elbow surgery sometime in August, there could be a spot in the rotation for Norris.
Third base prospect Mike Olt (pictured), whose name has been mentioned in rumors surrounding Garza, could be of interest to the Astros. Matt Dominguez has shown some power and plays solid defense at the hot corner but his overall numbers at the plate are poor (.640 OPS, 12 BB, 51 K). As strong as the Astros' farm system has become, they don't have a third base prospect anywhere near the majors.
Pitching for the Giants would be a dream come true for Norris but the Giants are quickly falling out of contention and might be "sellers" at the trade deadline.
July 12 Update
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com is reporting that the Astros are asking for two top prospects in return for Norris, according to rival GM's. For two-and-a-half seasons of a solid mid-rotation starter like Norris, this shouldn't come as any surprise.
As one general manager tells Heyman, Norris is "the best long value guy" that might be available. Several teams, including the Diamondbacks, Giants, Rockies and Padres, have been reported to be seeking a starting pitcher that is controlled beyond this season.
While three of those teams—all but Arizona—have not played well since and are now on the "seller" or "buyer" fence, Norris would be less risky because he'd still fit into a team's plans for the next two seasons. Offering up two top prospects might not be a bad idea for a pitcher who could potentially help them get back into the race in 2013 and then slot into a rotation spot in 2014 and 2015.
Back in mid-June, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe mentioned the Giants, Orioles and Pirates as teams who were showing interest in Norris. But the Orioles have since acquired Scott Feldman, meaning that the Giants could be "sellers" when it's all said and done. The Pirates rotation looks strong with A.J. Burnett, All-Star Jeff Locke, Cy Young candidate Francisco Liriano, top prospect Gerrit Cole and Charlie Morton. They also have Jeanmar Gomez in reserve.
The Giants can't be ruled out completely, even if they can't turn things around soon. They could get a head start on the offseason and try to acquire Norris now, considering they could be looking to fill two rotation spots if Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito depart as free agents.
As reported by Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports, the Giants were Norris' favorite team growing up and he said it would be a dream come true to play for them. Not that Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow will accommodate him for that reason or that Giants general manager Brian Sabean would have extra motivation to get a deal done because of it. But it would make for a nice story.