Once a top prospect in the Nationals system, Derek Norris will now be returning to Washington. In return the Padres received a relief pitcher. But, what does this mean in terms of the catching role in DC?
Certainly this new acquisition means the end of the the possibility for all-star Wilson Ramos to return on a new deal. However, clearly, Norris is no Wilson Ramos, so the Nats will have to utilize their other catchers as well. The Nationals’ #14 overall prospect, Pedro Severino, will be the backup to Norris along with veteran Jose Lobaton. Spencer Kieboom, another catching prospect, will also be playing for a backup spot during the Spring.
After back-to-back breakthrough seasons, Derek Norris scuffled back down to a .184 batting average in 2016. Also, after producing a caught-stealing percentage of 34% (well above league average) in 15’, Norris only threw out 21% of base stealers in 16’. Lastly, the concern with Norris’ health is not big, but is still present. After playing in 147 games in 15’, Norris appeared in 20 or so less games this past season. Having Wilson Ramos behind the plate for years has become frustrating for the Nats, as Ramos rarely could stay healthy for a majority of a season.
Norris may not be that catcher for the Nationals to finally rely on for a full season, but he was cheap. The veteran presence he brings to the locker room will hopefully help youngsters Kieboom and Severino mature quickly. Severino is a Dominican native who signed with the Nats in 2010, as a defensive specimen. Spencer Kieboom is a former 5th round draft pick out of Clemson. He has shown some pop in the minors by collecting 388 total bases in over 200 minor league games played. Finally Jose Lobaton is a veteran who can give the Nats 80+ games behind the plate.
Without waiting to see if Wilson Ramos would re-sign, the Nationals acted quickly. Instead of hoping that Ramos can stay healthy, the Nats save money by acquiring Norris. Finally, this move is most significant for it’s opportunity it will give the kids to prove themselves.