Bud Norris Trade Impact for Orioles and Astros

Bud Norris was traded to the Orioles yesterday, one of the few trades made during a quiet trade deadline. The Astros received L.J. Hoes, a recent call up from Triple-A Norfolk, and Josh Hader, who has been pitching well in Single-A for the Delmarva Shorebirds.

The trade gives the Astros an unproven outfielder in Hoes, who has had only 4 at bats in two brief call ups. But he owns a career MILB batting average of .286 and has hit .302 the last two years in Norfolk, however, he has struggled to find consistent time in the majors. Hoes could provide a boost to an Astros offense that is last in the majors in offensive WAR (0.3), hits (818), strikeout percentage (25.6), and second to last in batting average (.235). The current Astros outfielders have struggled as they combine to hit .226 and have an offensive WAR of -2.6. But the Astros have strong prospects in Double-A with Domingo Santana, Preston Tucker, and George Springer in Triple-A. With four outfielders in their top 20 prospects and Springer ranked #58 in the top 100 prospects in Baseball Prospectus, the move gives the Astros more depth to a strong group of up and coming outfielders. Watch out for this group in the next few years, especially Springer, who has hit .310 with 29 HRs in Double and Triple-A this season.

The Astros also picked up a strong, young pitching prospect in 19 year old Josh Hader. According to Orioles Nation, Hader is a lefty with a good fastball and an even better curveball, as well as a slider that could be developed with a few more years in the minor leagues. Although it’s too early to tell, Hader has been great in Rookie and A-Ball, posting a 2.45 ERA in 34 career games, as well as a 2.65 ERA in seventeen starts in Single A-Delmarva this season. The move adds another pitcher to the plethora of pitchers the Astros have built up in their farm system, including this year’s number one pick Mark Appel.  After two or three years in the minors, Hader could join what could be one of the best rotations in baseball with Appel, and possibly Jared McCullers, Mike Foltynewicz, and Jared Cosart.

The Orioles gave up two exceptional prospects to acquire right hander Bud Norris, who the Orioles look to help bolster the back end of the rotation. The move could give the Orioles more pitching depth in October, as they could stick with a four man rotation. Norris is 6-9 with a 3.93 ERA this season, and has been the best starting pitcher for the Astros this season.

But, Norris has been inconsistent this season as he has a 2.93 ERA at home, while he has a 5.91 ERA on the road. This is a concern for the Orioles, as Norris could struggle in a hitter friendly Camden Yards as well as against the tough hitters of the American League East. Norris has also struggled against lefties as they hit .306 against him, and the Orioles have numerous games left against teams with good left handed hitters. Norris, however, could be an improvement over some of the other options at starter for the Orioles. It gives them an improvement over Jason Hammel, who has struggled to regain his form from 2012. The Orioles also need Norris to go deep into games, since Orioles pitchers rarely make it into the seventh inning and they haven’t thrown a complete game yet this season. The ability for Norris to go deep into games would give the bullpen a night off, something they haven’t gotten with other starters so far in 2013.

Norris’s contract was also a reason the move was made, as Norris has three years remaining on his contract and is a cheap option at starting pitcher. This could free up space for possible large contracts the Orioles could use to sign Manny Machado, Chris Davis, and possibly Matt Wieters.

Right now the Orioles have won this trade, but that could change in the future. If Norris performs just as well as he did in Houston, he could help the Orioles make a deep postseason run. But the move continues to add to what is looking like a bright future for the Astros. They added an outfielder who is already playing in the majors and a starter who could be part of a bona fide rotation in two or three years. Many deadline trades are judged on the short term impact, but like trades the Orioles made in the 2007 offseason; they can also define a franchise. This trade might not as be as big as the ones the Orioles made, but it definitely has the potential to add another piece to the puzzle. Look for both of these teams to be fighting for playoff spots in three years.

– Justin Fitzgerald

All stats are from ESPN, Baseball Reference and Fangraphs

Image Source: (http://www.baltimoresun.com/media/photo/2013-08/76869155.jpg)

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