Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo acknowledged in an interview with 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies on Wednesday that veteran reliever Bud Norris had visited the team’s facilities in West Palm Beach, FL as the two sides discussed a potential deal.
“Bud is a guy that we have interest in,” Rizzo explained. “He’s been to West Palm, now we’re evaluating him physically, and I think if our doctors and our pitching coaches down there like what they see we’ll probably give him an opportunity on a minor league contract to see what he’s got left, and if he’s an upgrade of one of the eight relievers that we have now you may see him in the big leagues, if not he’ll be a depth piece for us in the minor leagues, but nothing is imminent, we haven’t signed him yet, but we are looking at him.”
Norris, 34, signed a minor league deal with Toronto in early March but he was released by the Blue Jays on April 2nd, with Sportsnet baseball columnist Shi Davidi explaining that with no roster spot available, and questions on the Jays’ part about whether or not he was ready to join the major league roster, they wanted to give the veteran an opportunity to catch on elsewhere:
Bud Norris made only three spring appearances before #BlueJays had to make a $3m call on him. While he felt ready and is healthy, they left him in Florida so they could see more from him. Now, without a free roster spot, they didn't want to tie him down so they released him.— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) April 3, 2019
“All these guys that are veteran major leaguers like he is, like Bud was ... they all have opt-outs in their contract,” Rizzo told The Junkies, “... so a lot of times if they don’t make the big league club they opt out and try to get a better opportunity with another major league club, that’s all it is.”
According to Jon Heyman, the Nationals didn’t think Norris was ready to join the big league bullpen immediately either, and the potential deal fell apart:
The Nats’ potential deal with Bud Norris fell through. They felt he was still 4/5 weeks away from being MLB ready, and they prefer someone who’s ready to help now/very soon.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) April 11, 2019
The results the Nationals are getting from their relief corps have improved in the last few games after a rough start to the season, but they might still be in the market for help.
After last night’s blowout win in the series finale with the Philadelphia Phillies, the Nationals’ relief corps has a National League worst 7.79 ERA and a .299 BAA, which is the third-highest amongst NL teams.