As the 2013 MLB trade deadline approaches, one of the players most commonly associated with a potential trade is Houston Astros pitcher Bud Norris. As a strong right-handed starter who can contribute in the middle of a rotation, Norris certainly could attract a contender.
The question is, where might he up and how would he fit?
According to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com, three teams have been identified as potential suitors. Those teams are the Arizona Diamondbacks, Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates, who all have postseason dreams and a need for pitching.
Per Jeff Passan of CBS Sports, Norris won't be in Houston for much longer.
McTaggart reports that Norris has been scratched from his start on Tuesday, July 30.
It's hardly surprising that Houston, a team far from postseason contention, would be willing to move a quality pitcher in his prime. Thus far in 2013, the 28-year-old is 6-9 with a 3.93 ERA and 90 strikeouts in 21 appearances.
The belief around the league, however, is that Norris will see significantly better results with an upgraded defense and more run support—something each of the teams interested in him would provide.
W-L Record: 54-51 (2nd in NL West)
It's no secret that the Diamondbacks are looking to add arms. Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston reports that they're the front-runners to land Jake Peavy. Should that plan fall through, however, Arizona's commitment to pursuing Norris makes a powerful statement.
The Diamondbacks are not satisfied with the aces they already have and believe they can make a real push for the postseason—and they can.
Arizona is led by 24-year-old All-Star Patrick Corbin, who is 12-2 with an ERA of 2.24, a WHIP of 0.99 and 123 strikeouts. Behind the lefty is Wade Miley, who is 7-8 with a 3.86 ERA, having lowered that number in nine of his past 11 starts.
Beyond them, there really isn't much to say.
Trevor Cahill is injured, but even if he does return, he'd bring a record of 3-10 with a 4.66 ERA to the table. Ian Kennedy, who won 36 combined games in 2011 and 2012, is 3-7 with a dreadful 5.35 ERA.
Even still, Arizona is within 2.5 games of the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West.
Norris may not fare much better than Miley, but if he's able to add a stabilizing arm in front of Cahill and Kennedy, Arizona would reap the benefits. Paul Goldschmidt is playing at a superstar level offensively, and the Diamondbacks' bullpen has lethal arms.
It wouldn't be a World Series clincher, but adding Norris would be a major step in the right direction.
W-L Record: 58-48 (3rd in AL East)
The Orioles have the tall task of chasing the hottest teams in baseball as the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays trade the AL East lead. As the most powerful team in baseball—Baltimore ranks No. 1 with a .443 slugging percentage—they certainly have a way to get back into the race.
It's all about adding reliable arms to a less-than-dependable rotation.
The Orioles are 20th or worse in quality starts, WHIP, opponent batting average and team ERA. Wei-Yin Chen, Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez have been very strong for Baltimore, but no other player with at least five starts has an ERA lower than 5.12.
That's what you call urgency.
Norris would be a welcome addition. His ERA would float somewhere between 3.70 and 4.00. That may not be an elite number, but it's a substantial upgrade over what Baltimore currently puts forth.
Optimism tells us Norris may actually improve with a move to the AL East, as Baltimore's defense would offer far more support than Houston's.
The key here is that Baltimore has a core of Chris Davis, Adam Jones, Manny Machado and Nick Markakis to support Norris. Even when a game gets out of hand, the Orioles can get back into it with their bats.
That would offer a form of confidence that Norris hasn't felt in quite some time.
W-L Record: 62-42 (2nd in NL Central)
If the season ended yesterday, the Pirates would earn a wild-card spot in the 2013 MLB playoffs. They're tied for the most wins in the National League, sitting just .5 games behind the division-leading St. Louis Cardinals.
Did we mention that Pittsburgh has turned some of the most inconsistent arms in MLB into the most dominant pitching staff in baseball? Their rankings of No. 1 in team ERA and opponent batting average supports that statement.
Why can't Norris be the next player to break out in Pittsburgh?
The Pirates are led by a veteran cast of A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano and Wandy Rodriguez, along with 25-year-old breakout star Jeff Jocke. Those names suggest bottom-10 potential, but pitching coach Ray Searage has worked absolute magic.
With Jason Grilli converting 30 saves in 31 opportunities, this team truly is the all-unbelievable team.
It's worth noting that Norris has posted a 2.33 ERA at PNC Park since 2011, playing his division rival multiple times per year. It's also important to factor in that Norris was teammates with Rodriguez for three-and-a-half seasons and Mark Melancon for one-and-a-half.
It's unclear where Norris will end up, but Pittsburgh certainly sounds like the most ideal destination.