Padres Editorial/Ranking the Padres off-season moves Part 2
By James Clark
The acquisition of Derek Norris and Seth Streich from the Oakland Athletics for R.J. Alvarez and Jesse Hahn
Another former All-Star addition to the San Diego Padres team is Derek Norris. He also (in my opinion) came at the heftiest price if you are counting major league ready talent. Norris hit 10 homers and drove in 55 runs with a .270 batting average. I know those numbers aren’t particular good but his .361 on base percentage, shows he knows the strike zone.
Jesse Hahn and RJ Alvarez are both quality young arms. The Padres have loads of quality young arms, but after moving both Yasmani Grandal and Rene Rivera they lacked a quality major league catcher. Thus a trade was born.
Austin Hedges comes with a lot of hype. The only thing preventing him from being in San Diego is his bat, or lack there of, so far in his young career. Defensively he has the quick release and arm strength scouts dream of. His receiving and pitch calling are improving day by day.
Now, did AJ Preller give too much for Norris being that Hedges is only a year or so away from being an everyday, Yadier Molina type of catcher. Okay, maybe that’s a little too high a praise to give to Hedges. I do remember Molina first entering the league with the reputation similar, now how has his bat improved? It can happen, after all the catchers first responsibility should be to handle the pitching staff not hitting 3 run homers.
Back to Norris, he is a very legit hitter. He has the on-base percentage and power that will be a nice addition to a previously stale offense. Defense is not his strong suit though. The Kansas City Royals went wild running on him in the 2014 post season. Its not all his fault, but troubling to say the least.
What Norris needs to do is improve his receiving skills. Jesse Hahn had a very impressive rookie year last year. He was 7-4 with a 3.07 era and 70 strike outs in 73 innings. At the age of 24 and with his above average curveball, he could very well be a decent two or three pitcher in the Major League for years to come. RJ Alvarez, a power bullpen arm was also a loss for the team. He is only 23 and could provide a decent bullpen option for the Athletics.
This trade ranks this high provided Austin Hedges is moved in a trade for say Cole Hamels (fingers crossed). That would, to me, justify the deal for Norris. He is under control for the next four years and being that he is only 25, his defense should improve with time. He has already stated that he has been working on it during the off season.
If we are playing Norris and Hedges towards the end of this year, then we have a problem. Derek Norris and Austin Hedges are catchers that need to play everyday. In order to appreciate each catchers abilities they need to be out there five or six days a week.
Sure, Norris might give up a big steal here and there, but he will also get some huge hits provided he is given the opportunity to play. Hedges will give away at bats from time to time, while at the plate, but he will also throw out base runners with ease on the base paths.
Perhaps we can get Commisioner Manfred to designate a new rule called designated catcher. That way Hedges can receive the pitching staff while Norris gets all the at bats. I’ll get right on that Padres fans.