Don’t be surprised when you see Bud Norris pitching for a team other than the Houston Astros in the coming weeks—and no, not for a Triple-A team.
This time next week, Major League Baseball’s July 31 trade deadline will have passed, and that means that Norris will likely have been dealt. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports the Red Sox, Pirates, Phillies, Giants, Dodgers and Orioles have all shown interest in Norris at some point in the last few weeks.
Norris is a valuable commodity for a number of reasons. For one, he’s pitched well for the worst team in baseball. In 20 starts, he’s 6-9 with a 3.91 ERA. He’s averaging 6.24 strikeouts and 3.01 walks per nine innings of work. Keep in mind that he’s only getting an average of 3.3 runs of support per start, per Baseball-Reference.
The 28-year-old right-hander is only making $3 million this season, which is next to nothing for someone who could make a big impact down the stretch and in the postseason. Norris is also under contract for the next few years, as he won’t be eligible for free agency until 2015, per Jerry Crasnick of ESPN:
Norris makes $3M and won't be free agent until 2015. Has appeal to teams looking for starter they can control. #astros— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) July 20, 2013
Of the teams with interest in Norris, per Heyman, Baltimore would be an intriguing destination for the right-hander. The Orioles have the 24th-best rotation in baseball this season in terms of wins above replacement, per FanGraphs. Baltimore, however, just completed a deal to acquire Scott Feldman from the Cubs.
Even though the Birds just added a starter, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports that the organization may not be done adding pitching help. The scribe does note that Baltimore “likely would balk at the prospect price” to land Norris from Houston. The next few days could determine whether or not the team’s stance changes.
While we await word on where Norris will be headed—if anywhere—here are the latest rumors surrounding two other notable names who could get dealt soon.
Alfonso Soriano, Chicago Cubs
A day or so ago, it seemed like the Yankees were set to land Alfonso Soriano—their former second baseman—from the Cubs. Now, it appears that the deal may not be completed. Buster Olney of ESPN reports that there is a large gap between the two franchises on who will be paying the remainder of the outfielder’s contract.
As of this evening, there's a large gap between how CHC and NYY value Alfonso Soriano, and who should be responsible for how much of his $.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 23, 2013
Here’s what Bryan Hoch of MLB.com said of the negotiations:
Soriano is earning $17 million this year and is due $18 million in 2014, so the distribution of that money is a concern as the negotiations progress, particularly if the Yankees intend to come in below the $189 million luxury-tax threshold next season.
Soriano is hitting .254/.287/.467 with 17 home runs and 51 RBI in 93 games with Chicago this season. The outfielder has really shown off his power in recent weeks, as he’s hit eight home runs in 18 games this month. What’s a little surprising—and somewhat comical—is that the Yankees only have seven homers combined in July.
The Yankees could really use a player like Soriano in the second half of the season, and the potential deal is a no-brainer for the Bronx Bombers. New York has to find a way where it can complete the deal with the Cubs without crossing over the luxury tax threshold next season, even if it means paying more in 2013.
New York has to work quickly because time is running out before Soriano would have to clear waivers, and the Yankees aren’t the only team interested in the outfielder’s services, according to Carrie Muskat of MLB.com. He does have a no-trade clause in his contract, but has yet to start thinking of waiving it, per Muskat.
Michael Young, Philadelphia Phillies
Two games against St. Louis. Three games against Detroit. One game versus San Francisco. That's the upcoming schedule for the Phillies before July 31. How successful the club is in those six games will likely determine whether Philadelphia decides to buy or sell at the trade deadline.
Will the Phillies be buyers or sellers?
Jayson Stark of ESPN reports that if the Phillies “have a rough week,” they could end up dealing some big names. In that scenario, Stark writes that Michael Young would definitely be traded. “The next week will determine Michael Young’s fate more than anyone else on their roster,” an executive told the writer.
Through 93 games this season, Young is hitting .283/.346/.413 with seven home runs and 31. The seven-time All-Star can play anywhere in the infield and would be a good right-handed bat to have down the stretch for a contender. He can still be a big contributor even though he’s 36 years old.
Rosenthal recently wrote that 12 teams have called the Phillies about acquiring Young, including the Red Sox and Yankees. Each team needs help at the hot corner, as both rank in the bottom third in MLB in third-base production in terms of WAR, according to FanGraphs. Young would be a great fit with either AL East club.
All statistics in this article were obtained via FanGraphs unless otherwise noted and are current through July 23. All injury information was obtained via Baseball Prospectus and all contract information was obtained via Cot’s Contracts unless otherwise noted.