Tampa Bay Rays: Why Derek Norris Does Not Make Sense
The Tampa Bay Rays have been linked to Derek Norris since he was released by the Washington Nationals. The timing may not work for such a move to make sense.
In general, it is easy to plug a new player into the lineup during the season. Unlike other sports, there are fewer signals or plays to learn, as baseball still comes down to hitting, catching, and throwing the ball. Typically, the biggest concerns come down to clubhouse chemistry and whether or not that player is a fit.
However, catcher is not the average position. A catcher needs to learn the pitching staff, understand their stuff, and learn how to get through when they are struggling. They need to be a leader, and have to know how to get through the opposing lineup. That can lead to a steep learning curve as a catcher goes from one team to another, especially in the middle of the season or in Spring Training.
That is exactly what the Tampa Bay Rays have to consider with Derek Norris. Since the Washington Nationals inked Matt Wieters to make Norris expendable, the Rays have been thought of as a possible destination. After Norris was released, that speculation has only increased, with the Rays front office reportedly discussing such a move.
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However, the Rays do have reservations. Given the work that Luke Maile and Curt Casali have put forth to learn the pitching staff, those concerns from above are certainly valid. And, the Rays do have Wilson Ramos, who may be back in the lineup as soon as May. Even if he is not behind the plate immediately when he returns, Ramos will take that spot in the lineup eventually.
There is also a question of how much of an upgrade Norris would be. While he was an All Star in 2014, his production has declined since then. Last year, Norris had an abysmal .186/.255/.328 batting line, for a 56 OPS+. That was worse than the average Jose Molina performance at the plate.
Although he has a bit of pop and graded out as a solid defensive catcher, Norris just is not enough of an upgrade for the Rays. With the Rays looking to lock in key parts of their lineup for the future, spending the money needed to bring Norris into the fold just does not make sense.
Next: Rays getting a good look at their prospects
Derek Norris is a luxury that the Tampa Bay Rays cannot afford. Given his production last season, he may not even be any better than what the Rays already have on the roster.