The Washington Nationals made kind of a surprising trade on Friday as they acquired Derek Norris from the Padres in exchange for right-handed pitcher Pedro Avila.
This trade makes sense for the Nationals since they had a need at catcher after Wilson Ramos tore his ACL late last season and he wasn’t expected to re-sign with Washington. Norris brings a very talented catcher in his prime at only 27 years old and most importantly he will help to make the Nationals immediate world series contenders. Norris only hit .186 last season, but he is an all-star caliber catcher so expect those stats to improve in 2017. Norris has very good power for a catcher as he has hit 14 home runs each of the last 2 seasons for the Padres. He won’t be as good as Ramos was last season for the Nationals at the catcher position, but Norris at least provides Washington with a catcher with pretty good offensive abilities. Meanwhile, losing a prospect with plenty of potential like Pedro Avila might hurt the Nationals long-term. However, the Nationals have a pretty good farm system that they can make this trade and be fine, but the priority for the team is clearly to win now. Hopefully Norris can improve his batting average to what it was a couple of years ago, but he is a solid catcher either way that can help the Nationals to win immediately.
The Padres are in yet another major rebuild mode after their big acquisitions prior to the 2015 season really backfired on them. Derek Norris was one of those big acquisitions that the Padres made in that offseason and he was not quite the productive player that the team expected him to be. Austin Hedges is the catcher of the future for the Padres and it is the right move for the team to give Hedges the opportunity to be the team’s full-time starting catcher. It’s pretty clear that the Padres won’t be close to competing next season with the roster that they have assembled, so getting a pitcher with some potential will help them long-term. Pedro Avila is only 19 years old and he has a 2.93 ERA in 2 seasons in the minor leagues, although he has only reached Class A so far. It will take at least a few years for Avila to reach the MLB, but it’s hard not to like his potential and his ability to strike out hitters. Norris had no use for the Padres any longer and it makes sense to help their team during the rebuild process by acquiring a young pitcher with some good potential.