The Padres entered 2016 with three quality Major League catchers: two young players and a more veteran one who was supposed to be better offensively than the other two. Now a decision they had been dreading might be a big positive for the club.
The Padres annointed Derek Norris the starter in Spring Training and decided to keep newcomer Christian Bethancourt as the back-up instead of homegrown Austin Hedges who they shipped to AAA. He went on the DL early but is back and hitting. So is Norris and at the right time.
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In April and May this year, Norris hit .179 with 5 HR and 10 RBI. In June so far he is hitting .305 with 4 and 12 RBI. Good time to be traded while his value is up perhaps?
If fans want to build around a player, that player is most likely to be Austin Hedges at the catcher position. Hedges has now homered 5 times in his last 7 games and certainly is ready to take over the regular major league catching duties. Bethancourt has also shown his offensive progress and shown off his arm in the big leagues, both from behind the plate and from the mound(twice!).
The Padres are going to be sellers at the deadline and there was concern after his horrific first two months they wouldn’t be able to get much in return from Norris beyond a couple buckets of baseballs. Now that all changes.
With the two wild cards, more teams than ever believe they are in it which makes the Padres in a better spot. The Pirates have a hurt catcher in Francisco Cervelli, the Indians are watching Yan Gomes scrape .200 and the Royals have seen some injuries to their star Salvador Perez as well. All might be fits for Norris.
Hedges struggled at the major league level hitting only .168 but is hitting .350 with 6 HR in El Paso so far this season. The timing could be right and clear a logjam, allowing youth and promise to take over at the catcher position in San Diego.