The Braves have made an addition to their pitching staff for the 2016 season, signing right-hander Bud Norris to a one-year, $2.5 million deal. The 30-year old is coming off a career worst season in which he compiled a 6.72 ERA. He began the season with the Orioles, where he had pitched since 2013. However, his struggles as a starter ultimately led to his release from the team. The Padres picked him up as a reliever, and while he posted a 11.3 K/9 rate in 20 games, this was a small sample size and he was far from effective.
I get what the Braves are doing here. They see Norris as an investment, as he is just a season removed from posting a 15-8 record with a 3.65 ERA. Roger McDowell is one of the best in the business, and he did Jim Johnson wonders during his short tenure in Atlanta. He can be McDowell’s next reclamation project. I expect Norris to be a pretty mediocre innings eater. The team will hope he outperforms his contract and that they can get back a couple minor leaguers for him at the deadline. But at what cost?
The Braves have so many young arms competing for their rotation. Shelby Miller and Julio Teheran serve as the clear-cut top of the rotation starters. However, they then have Manny Banuelos, Mike Foltynewicz, Matt Wisler, and Williams Perez to choose from as young, cost-controlled arms. Why not let the young guys figure it out? As far as I’m concerned, bringing in Norris is a waste of time… even if he does perform well. We have invested a lot in these arms and we need to let them compete on the biggest stage to see what they are made of.
On another note, this signing makes it much more unlikely that Mike Minor will be in a Braves uniform next season. Minor was expected to serve as the team’s “vet signing” coming off injury, but the team is clearly concerned with his health and made it clear they were only open to bringing him back at a reduced rate. Minor clearly is not on schedule.
It can’t really get more mediocre than Norris, and Braves fans will soon realize that. Hopefully he won’t occupy a rotation spot for too long on the “competing” Atlanta Braves.