Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Astros get less than expected for Norris
By Keith Law
Details of the trade
Baltimore Orioles get: RHP Bud Norris
Houston Astros get: OF L.J. Hoes, LHP Josh Hader, competitive balance draft pick
The Orioles' acquisition of Bud Norris gives them needed starting pitching depth, especially with Jason Hammel going on the DL on Wednesday, but also could help bolster their right-handed relief corps, if everyone comes back healthy and available. The Astros get a 4A position player, who gets on base, and a lottery-ticket lefty with arm strength but a long ways to go.
Norris was the nominal No. 1 starter in Houston, but is, at best, a fourth starter in a good rotation like Baltimore's. He's got velocity, but not movement or command, and is much more of a two-pitch pitcher. His changeup is below-average and left-handed hitters have always hit him well (.282/.356/.460 since the start of 2011) because of that weakness.
Several front-office execs told me they view Norris as a potential setup guy who would likely reach the upper 90s with a plus slider in that role. However, he at least offers durability in the rotation and can fill in while Hammel is out.
For Houston, it's a lower return than I'd expected given how much interest there seemed to be in Norris this month and even last offseason. Hoes can only play left field; the Orioles tried to convert him to second base, but he struggled badly, with an error every five games, and he's not quick enough to handle center. He has a short, high-contact stroke from the right side and has always had solid walk rates, with a .406 OBP this year in Triple-A. He could be a bench guy or below-average regular in left.
Hader was my sleeper prospect for the Orioles this year, ninth in their system. He's a hard-throwing lefty who can reach 94 regularly from a low three-quarters arm slot, but with poor command and fringy secondary stuff right now. He's just 19 with only 113 innings in pro ball and has an arm the Astros can dream on, but even in a best-case scenario, he's three years away.