Before the Washington Nationals signed veteran backstop Matt Wieters to what is reportedly a 2-year/$21M free agent deal, Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo and manager Dusty Baker pulled catcher Derek Norris aside to let him know they were adding Wieters.
“They made me aware of the situation before I caught wind of social media,” Norris said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.
“I didn’t want him to read it on social media or hear it from somebody else,” Baker told reporters. “He appreciated that. I talked to him a couple times.”
Norris was acquired in an early December 2016 trade with San Diego that sent minor league right-hander Pedro Avila to the Padres.
Though he was coming off a rough offensive season, Rizzo and Co. in the Nationals’ front office thought he was a candidate for a bounce-back campaign in the nation’s capital.
Smells like a Lerner-Boras deal. One of reasons #Nationals dealt for Derek Norris in early December was to avoid Boras' push for Wieters https://t.co/Pf2A9DLTga— thom loverro (@thomloverro) February 21, 2017
“The skill set, when evaluated, the skill set is still there,” Rizzo said this winter.
“We like his approach at the plate. He’s got a simple hitting approach that we feel that we’ve dealt with before, we’ve got a history with him. We know what makes him tick.”
“Good pitch caller,” Rizzo continued. “He’s become a really good pitch framer and a guy that we believe, again, is going to have a good bounce-back season.”
Three months later, however, after a winter’s worth of rumors tying the Nationals to Wieters, a deal finally got done, pending a physical for the 30-year-old catcher, which was supposed to take place today.
Baker, as quoted by MASN’s Zuckerman, hinted strongly that the Nationals would try to trade Norris now that Wieters is part of the mix behind the plate in D.C.
“There’s always somebody out there that needs a frontline catcher,” Baker said.
A team that has been talking with the White Sox says they've been waiting for Nats to sign Wieters to rekindle David Robertson trade talks— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) February 21, 2017
@jaysonst White Sox have been looking for a catcher. Derek Norris or Pedro Severino could be potential fits.— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) February 21, 2017
As long as he’s still on the Nationals’ roster, however, Norris said he would continue to approach Spring Training as if he is competing for the starting job.
Will the Nationals deal from their catching depth to restock the farm somewhat after dealing a number of prospects this winter?
Will they consider trading 23-year-old catcher Pedro Severino as part of a package for a closer?
Any way they stick with Norris and Wieters in the majors this season in your mind?
We came up with our own Top 5 questions for the Nationals now that Wieters is part of the mix in West Palm Beach...