The Washington Nationals officially announced this morning that they have unconditionally released 28-year-old catcher Derek Norris, as expected after they reportedly placed the backstop on waivers last week.
The Nationals acquired Norris, an ‘07 Nats’ 4th Round pick who was traded to the Oakland A’s in 2011, in a trade with the San Diego Padres this past December, but the subsequent signing of free agent catcher Matt Wieters led to speculation the team would try to trade Norris again.
After reportedly trying and failing to find a deal, the Nationals decided to release Norris this morning.
As previously reported, doing so means the Nationals only have to pay the catcher one-sixth of the $4.2M salary ($700K) the two sides agreed to earlier this winter when they avoided arbitration following the trade with the Padres.
Norris is coming off a down year in 2016 which saw him post a .186/.255/.328 line with 17 doubles and 14 HRS in 125 games and 458 plate appearances over which he was worth -0.4 fWAR.
GM Mike Rizzo told reporters this winter that they viewed the catcher as a bounce back candidate this season, but the Nationals signed veteran backstop Matt Wieters to a 1-year/$10.5M free agent deal last month, and talked immediately afterward about trying to find a trade for Norris which never materialized.
With Norris headed for free agency the Nationals seem likely to stick with Jose Lobaton as Wieters’ backup, which would allow them to keep top catching prospect Pedro Severino, who was referred to as the Nationals’ catcher of the future by Rizzo this winter, at Triple-A Syracuse as the 23-year-old receiver continues to develop.
#Nats have unconditionally released Derek Norris. Dusty: "He handled it like a professional. He handled it like a man."— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) March 15, 2017