The Athletic’s Brittany Ghiroli was first with a report this afternoon that the Washington Nationals and free agent reliever Bud Norris have worked out a deal after Jon Heyman’s reporting this morning of interest on the Nats’ part.
Norris, 34, was released by Toronto earlier this month after signing a minor league deal with the Jays this winter.
He posted a 3.59 ERA, a 3.99 FIP, 21 walks (3.28 BB/9), 67 Ks (10.46 K/9), and a .237/.317/.377 line against while earning 28 saves in 33 opportunities for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2018.
Heyman wrote earlier this morning on Twitter that the Nationals were interested in Norris, but still determined to remain under the $206M luxury tax threshold this season after the team went over the threshold in each of the last two seasons (2017-18).
Norris’s deal with the Jays would have paid him $3M in the majors (with $1.5M in bonuses available), but the pitcher and team couldn’t agree on how much work he needed to get in before he was added to the major league roster.
Heading into play tonight in Philadelphia, Washington’s bullpen ERA (10.17) is the highest among NL relief corps after nine games, with their combined 5.89 FIP the fourth-highest, their .351 BAA, the highest, and their WHIP (2.06), BABIP (.415), and LOB% (56.7%) all 15th out of 15 National League teams.
While Norris could add depth to the bullpen mix, he doesn’t seem like a cure-all for what’s ailed the Nationals’ relief corps early this season with Trevor Rosenthal, signed to be a set-up man, struggling to retire hitters in his first campaign following Tommy John surgery in 2017, and a number of other reliever under-performing early.
MASN’s Mark Zuckerman wrote this afternoon that a “a source familiar with the discussions” said the two sides were still working to finalize what will be a minor league deal for the 10-year veteran.
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