MLB Trade Rumors are in full swing this weekend, with the latest Cleveland Indians-related news related to a different (edit: former) National League Central starter.
With the Matt Garza sweepstakes likely ending soon with him heading to Texas, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports today that trade talks involving Houston’s Bud Norris have been heating up.
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) July 20, 2013
One of the potential fits for the 28-year-old Norris are the Indians, he tweeted, among several others vying for additional pitching help down the stretch. Crasnick reports that Norris is only making $3 million this year and won’t be a free agent until 2015. Thus, his team control is a vastly different situation than Garza, a higher-priced commodity who will also be a free agent this coming winter.
In his five-year career with the Astros, Norris is 34-46 with a 4.33 ERA, 8.4 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9. From 2010-2013, he ranks 39th in MLB with 107 starts and 44th with his 627.2 innings pitched. He had been having a career season thus far this year with a 3.22 ERA in his first 18 starts before allowing a combined 13 runs on 17 hits in just 10.2 innings in his last two outings, including last night.
Obviously, Norris is a starter in the No. 3-4 range for a decent team. He would provide depth, consistency, strikeout ability and long-term stability to any contending rotation. He does not have the high-end upside of a Garza, who is in the midst of his seventh straight season with a sub-4.00 ERA. Yet, a starter of his range and durability certainly has some value on the open market.
Is Norris a significant upgrade over the Indians’ existing options? The two weakest links in the team’s rotation actually have been doing better of late: Ubaldo Jimenez has a 3.42 ERA in 15 starts since April 29th and Scott Kazmir has a 1.95 ERA in six starts since June 21st. The rest of the team’s rotation, Justin Masterson, Corey Kluber and Zach McAllister, appears to be set in stone once the latter returns from the disabled list, perhaps as early as next week.
General manager Chris Antonetti and the Cleveland front office will have to decide shortly whether it’s worth pursuing a Norris-esque starter, or perhaps prioritizing other needs — such as a left-handed reliever that would have been helpful in Friday’s loss to Minnesota.