With the fifth starter in the St. Louis Cardinals‘ pitching rotation a big question mark, the team is considering all options. One of those options is to try to pry 27-year-old Bud Norris away from the Houston Astros.
The Cards lost Kyle Lohse to free agency over the winter. Though Lohse has yet to sign with another team, GM John Mozeliak has called the chances of bringing the 16-game winner back “negligible”. Another blow to their pitching depth came last weekend when it was disclosed that number two starter Chris Carpenter would likely miss the entire season due to a shoulder injury. That leaves a huge hole in the rotation, and the only candidates to fill it right now are rookies.
The Astros have sent feelers around the league recently in an effort to shop Norris to the highest bidder. Norris is their top pitcher, but Houston is not expected to compete in the near future, so they are more than willing to move him for prospects. Norris is also set to collect a big pay raise in 2014—another reason why the Astros would like to unload him now.
Norris will make just $3 million in 2013 and should be considered a bargain at that price. Though his win-loss record to date is unimpressive, he’s been stuck on horrible teams with very little offense for each of his four seasons in Houston. The Astros have averaged fewer than four runs per contest for four straight seasons—an unbelievable run in today’s game. By contrast, the Cardinals haven’t been under four runs per game since 1995. A chance of scenery would definitely do wonders for Norris’ record. The fireball-throwing right-hander has averaged 8.8 strikeouts per nine innings during his career.
Picking up Norris would be a tremendous addition to the Cardinals rotation, and it would allow their young pitchers to mature for another year in the minors rather than having them rushed to the big leagues. It’s no secret that the Cardinals have plenty of prospects to make this trade happen, as they have just been named the top farm system in baseball.
(JM Catellier is the author of the book Fixing Baseball, a guide to restructuring the Hall of Fame. Follow him on Twitter: @FixingBaseball and Facebook, and check out his site: www.fixingbaseball.com)